Public Protector requests Parliament support in addressing urgent institutional challenges
Public Protector Adv Busisiwe Mkhwebane appealed for parliament’s support to address the institution’s challenges of funding, human resource capacity and office space.
The Public Protector said this during a meeting with the Portfolio Committee on Justice and Correctional Services today where she presented the 2015/16 Annual Report.
In her opening remarks, the Public Protector indicated that her vision is to have a well empowered people at grass roots level who would be able to hold their leaders to account and said contrary to popular belief, this does not mean she is going to give high profile matters less attention. “My key focus is to ensure that the people at grassroots level enjoy constitutional democracy by increasing people’s access to our services through the utilisation of government infrastructure including magistrates’ courts, traditional authorities, schools and universities”, she said.
Adv Mkhwebane also said a backlog project will be initiated using internal resources to dispose of old cases. Reporting on the 2015/16 Performance Report, the Public Protector’s CEO, Adv. Louisa Zondo indicated that going forward the Public Protector plans to have good governance conversations with the Forum of South African Directors-General and South African Local Government Association among others. The talks aims to ensure that systemic challenges are addressed as well as improving awareness in respect to ethical codes of conduct. Adv. Zondo also highlighted to the Committee the challenges of human resources and remuneration framework, office infrastructure, electronic case management system, case backlog and case load management.
Adv. Mkhwebane told the committee of the resolve to contain and effectively manage costs by using economy flights for official travel as well as a moratorium of international travel with effect form 18 October until further review. She again brought to the attention of the committee the request for additional funding for the 2017 MTEF to address challenges of critical capacity, procure of expertise to clear a backlog of cases, security at Public Protector Offices, additional office space, video conferencing, OSD and job evaluation implementation and to procure case management system.
Public Protector welcomed the committee’s suggestion to approach the Appropriation Committee to increase funding to address the various challenges as this will eliminate the use of consultants and donor funding.
The meeting provided the opportunity for members to ask questions and the Public Protector undertook to provide a written report to the committee on all other issues she and her team did not have the opportunity to respond to. Responding to the Public Protector, Chairperson Mathole Motshekga committed the Committee to consider the all the issues brought before it and put together a report.
In conclusion, Adv. Mkhwebane reiterated that even though the case backlog is a priority area, other cases are also important as they contribute to the triple effect of poverty, unemployment and inequality and will therefore receive the necessary attention. Responding to questions on the so called “State Capture Report”, Adv. Mkhwebane confirmed that she is going to prepare an affidavit that she must file in court by Friday. The Chairperson of the Portfolio Committee, Adv. Mathole Motshekga in his final remarks said members are satisfied with her appointment and have confidence and high expectations of her and that she should let her adviser be the Constitution and the law.
For more information, contact:
Spokesperson for the Public Protector
Tel: (012) 366 7035
Cell: 079 507 0399