Public Protector addresses New York public integrity summit

A united front underpinned by a sound integrity framework, incorporating the rule of law, freedom of expression, an unwavering commitment to public accountability and transparency is fundamental for addressing corruption and ensuring good governance, Public Protector Adv Thuli Madonsela said in New York on Thursday.
During her address on case studies from the integrity front, to the New York City Global Partners’ Public Integrity: Anti-Corruption Strategies ,Economic Development and Good Governance, the Public Protector said maladministration and corruption were interrelated and that these were key factors derailing service delivery in at local government level in South Africa.
Noting that local government was at the frontline of delivering basic services that are essential for the realization of socio-economic rights guaranteed in the Constitution and realization of the Millennium development Goals, she advised that her office was part of South Africa’s national integrity framework seeking to enforce integrity in local government operations.
The Public Protector outlined her office’s mandate, powers, functions and approach to investigations, explaining that the office was an innovation that reinforced public accountability, including the enforcement of integrity beyond the traditional checks and balances in a democracy.
She said the impact her office continued to make in exacting accountability in the exercise of public power and control over state resources was due to sound constitutional foundations, comprehensive legal framework and rule of law ethos. These included the independence of the judiciary, constitutionally entrenched public accountability and freedom of expression, incorporating freedom of the media.
On the issue of corruption, the Public Protector highlighted her office’s commitment to ensuring that remedial action included clawing back funds lost to the state due to corrupt practices such as overpricing and shoddy service by state contractors. She mentioned that her office’s impact had been particularly felt in the state procurement system particiularly the leasing of office space and the question of executive ethics, including conflict of interest. She presented several cases to illustrate her point.
Highlighting that her office’s efforts were part of South Africa’s National Anti-Corruption Strategy, the Public Protector pointed out that the anticorruption work by her office and others was contributing towards a level playing field for business by eliminating market distortions created by corruption and related forms of maladministration.
She highlighted the importance of a united front against corruption and hailed the role played by integrity organs of civil society such as Corruption Watch in ensuring civic empowerment particularly in the areas of good governance and combatting corruption. She opined that transparency and public participation were essential for success in combatting corruption and ensuring good governance.
She touched on other national efforts that seek to promote good governance including an emerging good governance movement led by her office, which will be hosting a national good governance week, incorporating a conference for the third time in October this year. She also mentioned her engagements with business to ensure that those sectors that regularly contract with government played an active role in national efforts aimed at promoting integrity in government contract or tender practices.
The summit, which brought together a hundred leaders from around the world with established integrity operations as well as those seeking to develop such systems in their cities, ended today.
For more information, contact:
Oupa Segalwe
Manager: Outreach, Education and Communication
Public Protector South Africa
Tel: (012) 366 7035
Cell: 072 264 3273 
Published Date: 
Friday, June 8, 2012