Public Protector calls for national dialogue on accountability
Public Protector Adv Thuli Madonsela on Friday called for a national dialogue around the concept of accountability with a view to clarify apparent misapprehensions within public sector circles.
Speaking during a meeting with women organisations in Pretoria, the Public Protector said it was not enough for those exercising public power over state resources to simply explain and justify their actions as a way of accounting.
She explained that accountability included redress or taking corrective action to address the specific wrong-doing. This entailed restorative justice for victims of administrative injustices by the state, clawing back public resources acquired through unlawful means and fixing the system to avoid recurrence of improper conduct or maladministration.
“These are critical elements of accountability that are often missed,” she told representatives of various women movements including SA Women in Dialogue, SA Women Lawyers’ Association, Gender Links, Tshwaraganang Legal Advisory Centre and Progressive Women’s Movements of SA.
Delegates vowed to avail their organisations to serve as bridges between the Public Protector and the people in a bid to help the institution be accessible to far-flung communities.
They also affirmed the Public Protector as a unique alternative to the courts that provides a quicker access to justice .The delegates also decried the phenomenon of ignoring the Public Protector’s remedial action as an impediment to administrative justice and accountability.
In her response to the pledge, the Public Protector indicated that while her office was exploring various avenues to reach more people and engaging Parliament to request more resources, she welcomed the women’s offer.
She emphasised that citizens were important shareholders in “South Africa Incorporated” and this made women, who are in the majority of the country’s population, critical stakeholders in the work of her office.
The meeting formed part of a currently underway nationwide stakeholder consultative forum launched on 12 July under the theme “The Public Protector Dialogues with the Nation.”
Aimed at soliciting feedback regarding the work of the Public Protector and foster a common understanding of the institution’s mandate and role, the programme focuses on the importance of implementing the Public Protector’s remedial action.
This is for purposes of ensuring administrative justice by organs of state in respect of service failure and ensuring accountability in the exercise of state power and control over public resources.
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