Public Protector urges government to take criticism positively
Public Protector Adv Thuli Madonsela on Monday appealed to organs of state to take constructive criticism positively, emphasising that this would help build growth and excellence in the promotion of good governance.
She was speaking during a stakeholder consultative meeting with senior provincial government leaders, political parties and civil society groups in Kimberley, Northern Cape.
Engaging with delegates at the Provincial Legislature, the Public Protector called on organs of state to keep an open mind when dealing with criticism pertaining to their decisions or conduct.
“There are instances where some organs of state have spent a lot of money on forensic investigations just to establish who blew the whistle to oversight agencies such as my office,” she said.
Instead of spending funds on such ventures, the Public Protector said, the concerned organs of state should have rather looked into the allegations to establish if they have merit.
She further emphasised that leadership and accountability were the key to addressing service failure and ensuring that public power and resources are used in accordance with the law and the interests of people.
Pledging support for the Public Protector, Acting Premier Kenny Mmoiemang said the existence of the institution should not only be a source of comfort for the ordinary people. “It should also be a source of comfort for a government that is serious about ensuring accountability and delivery,” he said.
Among other things, delegates raised issues about what they termed tendencies by political parties to use the Public Protector to settle political scores with their opponents. Others were concerned about the accessibility of the Public Protector services to the citizens of the province.
Responding to these concerns, the Public Protector indicated that when investigating, she did not focus much on whether the complainant is a political party or not. The focal point would rather be on the merit of the case, she said.
She indicated that this informed her office’s approach to the allegations of service failure, abuse of power, political interference and corruption that her office had dealt with in the province recently.
On issues of accessibility, she indicated that it was a challenge to extend services to all persons and communities in the province without adequate resources as the province was quite vast.
The meeting formed part of stakeholder consultative forums launched in July under the theme “The Public Protector Dialogues with the Nation.”
The forums are aimed at soliciting feedback regarding the work of the Public Protector and foster a common understanding of the institution’s mandate and role. They focus 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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