Governance lapses and flaws in state expenditure are South Africa’s top risks: Deputy Public Protector

South Africa needs to manage the top risks that included corruption, perceived impunity and lapses in state expenditure and perpetuated inequality and poverty, Deputy Public Protector Adv. Kevin Malunga said on Thursday.

He was addressing the Institute of Risk Management South Africa (IRMSA) conference in Midrand on the major risks facing South Africa going forward from his office’s point of view.

The Deputy Public Protector said the perceived lack of transparency and accountability meant poor people were not only deprived of basic services but were sidelined and made to lose confidence in the administrative activities and processes that led to the provision of such services.

Adv. Malunga said the risks, particularly those associated with corruption and failure of good governance had significant mandate implications for his office as an avenue for complaint resolution and investigation of malfeasance and maladministration.

He warned the delegates that corruption affected everyone and destabilised the society while endangering the rule of law and undermined the institutions and values of democracy.

Quoting from the Mo Ibrahim Foundation’s Index of African Governance for 2014 which ranked the level of governance in the country at fourth from 52 countries in Africa, Adv. Malunga said the greatest failure of governance in the country was at local government level.

This, the Deputy Public Protector said, was evident even in the enormous number of complaints his office dealt with which were against municipalities.

He noted that local government was the key site of delivery, development and a vital point in providing ordinary citizens with access to water, health services, housing, infrastructure and social amenities.

The Deputy Public Protector warned that when people get frustrated, they destroy infrastructure and set the country backwards.

To avoid this, Adv. Malunga highlighted the importance of the promotion of good governance saying it ran like a golden thread throughout the National Development Plan (NDP) document as a requirement and enabler for most of the programmes and objectives stated in the plan.

He identified among others, lack of accountability, absence of consequences for officials who misbehave, lack of strong systems and controls to support effective implementation at local level along with an occasional failure to recognise the essential elements of the rule of law as key gaps in the public sector that were the driving forces behind the risks related to corruption and governance failures.

Adv. Malunga agreed that the country had the backing of a sound constitutional and legal framework well complemented by an arsenal of anti-corruption safeguards established at the dawn of the country’s democracy to curb corruption.

The Deputy Public Protector warned that the time had come to stop talking but act against corruption- adding the country had reached a crusing altitude on the journey to become a mature sound democracy.

He said for such goal to be achieved, there was a need to reinforce the fundamental values that got the country to where it is now and never repeat its awful past nor emulate the mistakes of failed states all over the world and in Africa.

Adv. Malunga said such countries mostly had one common denominator and that was an unchecked impunity that was allowed to fester.

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Published Date: 
Friday, September 18, 2015