Public Protector exhorts organs of state to promote justice and freedom
Public Protector Adv Thuli Madonsela on Monday paid tribute to the late anti-apartheid activist and campaigner for the rule of law Victoria Mxenge, hailing her for the role she played in the struggle for freedom and justice. Mxenge was killed during the struggle for liberation in the 1980s.
Addressing a stakeholder consultative forum meeting in Mangaung, Free State, the Public Protector said people such as Mxenge needed to be honoured as they had given their lives for South Africans to enjoy the fruits of freedom and justice.
She was echoing the sentiments of participants at a SA Women Lawyers’ Association held in honour of Mxenge at the weekend in East London. Participants at that event said Mxenge’s memory had to be honoured through ensuring that public power is exercised to achieve a better life for all people.
However, the Public Protector cautioned in her keynote address during the stakeholder meeting that the idea of a better life for all would not be possible if state power was used for personal gain.
She told delegates that the constitution promised every citizen a better life characterised by freedom, justice and human rights. “These things are not possible if state power is used for personal gain,” she said.
Exercising prudence in the administration of public resources would contribute significantly to the realisation of a better life, the Public Protector said.
She called on the state to treat its people as shareholders rather than consumers, indicating that one of the ways to do that would be to respond promptly when her office asked questions on behalf of complainants.
She added that failure to be responsive to the needs of the people would lead to a situation where people become belligerent and ultimately embark on destructive public outrages.
“If we cooperate there will be a less urge for the people to go on a rampage of violent protests,” she said.
The Public Protector also labeled as unconstitutional the random insistence of some organs of state that complainants should rather take their grievances to court rather than her office, indicating that courts were expensive, time-consuming and intimidating.
Among the key issues that emerged during discussions were overlapping mandates with other oversight agencies and questions around the Public Protector’s jurisdiction over private entities administering public funds.
Delegates also raised concerns relating to the timely responses by organs of state to service failure complaints and abuse of state resources. They also endorsed the implementation of the Public Protector’s remedial action and called for the depoliticisation of public service appointments.
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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