Public Protector warns against ignoring social injustice, calls for better use of office services
The country is ignoring social injustice and related challenges at its own peril, Public Protector Adv. Thuli Madonsela warned on Tuesday. She was speaking at the Cape Town Club event where she was reflecting on her term as Public Protector.
Adv. Madonsela said her office if properly used and supported had an enormous potential to level the playing field between the people and government. This, the Public Protector said, would result in enhancing meaningful public accountability, trust and limit the urge from the public to resort to self-help.
Adv. Madonsela told members of the Cape Town Club that through her office even the most humble person in terms of means or status in society could ensure that the most powerful of public functionaries, including the President, were answerable for their actions and make amends when having violated their responsibilities under the Constitution or any other rule regulating their conduct as a public functionary
“We provide a unique access to justice avenue that enables ordinary folk to seek answers from the most powerful in the country without spending a cent, “said the Public Protector.
To drive home her point, Adv. Madonsela related the story of a blind complainant from Mpumalanga whose house was repossessed and sold for allegedly failing to pay, a claim he disputed and denied.
The complainant argued that there was no basis for taking away the house as he had the original title deed that could not have been produced, if the house was not paid up.
“He has since been homeless,” the Public Protector said, “and relied on generosity of relatives and renting”.
Adv. Madonsela said her office has managed to reach a breakthrough recently with the Department of Human Settlement to allocate the complainant a house and if none was available, one would be rented.
These interventions, Adv. Madonsela said, make it possible for regular persons, who would ordinarily not afford a lawyer and lack the knowledge of the sophisticated court system, to exact accountability on others, where state affairs are involved.
She linked the story to the significant impact in the lives of ordinary people her office made through the systemic investigations and interventions on systemic service delivery deficiencies. This ensured that relations and trust between the people and government is restored.
Adv. Madonsela cited her office’s successful interventions in Dipaleseng in Mpumalanga, Olifantshoek and Kuruman in Northern Cape and Kopela in North West.
The Public Protector also said over the last seven years fixed procurement deficiencies that included unnecessary tenders or contracts, over billing, false-billing, poor demand management, scope creep and escalating costs in state affairs were also brought under the spotlight.
Paying tribute, to her predecessors, Adv. Madonsela said had it not been for the solid foundation she had to build on, the team would not have been able to achieve what it had achieved.
She told the gathering that her team is guided by the Public Protector Vision2020 document, anchored on accountability, integrity and responsiveness as its three key principles.
Adv. Madonsela said as she neared her end of term, she was hopeful that the Public Protector Team will continue to steadfastly hold the hands of the people of South Africa as they hold those they have entrusted with public power and resources accountable and even attain higher ground in the pursuit of service excellence.
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Public Protector South Africa
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