Public Protector not to engage publicly with SAPS over report
The Public Protector does not wish to engage with the South African Police Service (SAPS) in public with regard to the report she issued on Tuesday. If need be, she is happy to discuss the findings with the SAPS on a one to one basis with a view to clarify any misunderstandings.
All the issues raised during the SAPS press conference today have been addressed in the report in question.
The report clearly explains that the procurement process of the lease involved both the SAPS and the Department of Public Works. Although the SAPS did not sign the lease agreement, its involvement, by negotiating with a single supplier, went beyond the demand management stage. It also failed to implement proper controls, as is required by the Public Finance Management Act. SAPS’s failure to comply with the relevant provisions of the Constitution and other supply chain management prescripts was found to have amounted to improper conduct and maladministration. The Public Protector found that the procurement process of the lease concerned was improper and unlawful, which rendered the agreement invalid. It is in this regard that the conduct of the National Commissioner of the SAPS, in his capacity as the accounting officer, was found not to have complied with the said provisions and prescripts.
For the record, the Public Protector is entitled to request any institution that falls under her jurisdiction, such as the Special Investigating Unit, to assist her in any investigation, in terms of Section 7(3)(a) of the Public Protector Act. The decision to involve the Special Investigating Unit was further part of leveraging state resources as she has, on more than one occasion, indicated that her office does not have adequate capacity to fully execute its mandate. However, in the end, the report and the findings are that of the Public Protector issued in terms of section 182 of the Constitution.
For the Public Protector, the issue is not about who helped her with the investigation, but it is more about whether her findings were materially flawed or justified in law and in fact.
The Public Protector has investigated the complaints lodged with her in regard to the lease of the Sanlam Middestad building, reported on her investigation, and took remedial action ,as envisaged by Section 182 (3) of the Constitution and the Public Protector Act . It is now up to the state to do the right thing.
The Public Protector expects the state to act in accordance with former President Nelson Mandela’s comments when he addressed the International Ombudsman Conference in Durban 11 years ago. These included the following:
“It was, to me, never reason for irritation but rather a source of comfort when these bodies [Constitutional Institutions] were asked to adjudicate on actions of my Government and the Office and judged against it. One of the first judgments of our Constitutional Court, for example, found that I, as President, administratively acted in a manner they would not condone. From that judgment my government and I drew reassurance that the ordinary citizens of our country would be protected against abuse, no matter from which quarters it would emanate. Similarly, the Public Protector (Ombudsman) had on more than one occasion been required to adjudicate in such matters.”
The Public Protector’s confidence in the state’s ability and commitment to do the right thing was further bolstered by President Jacob Zuma’s remarks during his recent state of the nation address where he stated:
“We have well-established institutions that support democracy and protect the rights of citizens, such as the Office of the Public Protector, the South African Human Rights Commission, the Office of the Auditor General, the Commission on the Promotion and Protection of the Rights of Cultural, Religious and Linguistic Communities and the Gender Commission.”
Comments attributed to the Minister of Finance by some of today’s dailies are in line with this spirit
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