Public Protector and Eastern Cape Legislature Find Common Ground

Public Protector Adv Thuli Madonsela concluded her Eastern Cape leg of her Public Hearings and Stakeholder Dialogue with an address to the Eastern Cape Legislature. She had spent three days in the province, the first province the Public Protector team had descended on in her nationwide dialogue under the Theme: “Joining hands to end maladministration and ensure responsive service delivery: Focus on RDP houses and regulatory gaps in the illegal conversion of panel; vans into taxis.”
Chaired by the Speaker of the Legislature Mr Fikile Xasa, the legislature received the Public Protector team with open arms. Speaker after speaker confirmed that the Public Protector’s role is to enhance Parliamentary oversight in pursuit of public accountability as an important pillar of constitutional democracy.
The Public Protector gave the Legislature a snap shot of systemic service delivery challenges reported to the Public Protector team by stakeholder groupings and members of the public during her two days of public hearings and related public engagements. Her overview revealed that the people had identified a litany of systemic administrative deficiencies in the delivery of RDP and other social housing programme. These included long waiting periods, procurement concerns including poor controls, due diligence and quality assurance, substandard homes in terms of quality of materials, fittings and workmanship, incomplete homes, unrealistically small houses referred to as “Vezinyawo”, and allegations of corruption.
The overview further confirmed problems regarding the alleged illegal conversion of panel vans but noting that the people had said this was the least of their concerns as the availability of general public transport and functional roads, including bridges, were the key problem. She mentioned that key among the concerns was the allegation that when there were heavy rains learners and teachers do not go to school due to lack of functional roads and bridges and that many parents entrust their children to neighbours with battered vans as many of the children were not getting scholar transport subsidies.
The Public Protector’s summary of people’s voices and views included varied public service delivery sectors, including water, agriculture, health, education, social development, development management, local government and traditional affairs among the varied concerns.
The Public Protector also briefed the Legislature on the constitutional and legislative mandate of her office. She went on to outline the approach of her team to the mandate, likening her office’s role to that of the Makhadzi in Venda culture. She said her office’s key purpose is to give people a voice when direct dialogue between them and the state fails while operating as a second eye for those entrusted with public power with a view to mending relations between them and the people.
The Legislature and Public Protector noted the complementarily of the roles of these two constitutional institutions and committed themselves to collaborate where appropriate. The Public Protector also received constructive feedback on her offices services. On request, the Public Protector undertook to provide a copy of her report on the province to the legislature.
At the conclusion of the meeting the Public Protector rushed to her Bisho office to meet a group of 8 community members that had travelled over 400 kilometers from Lusikisiki to seek an audience with her. The group which informed the Public Protector that it was a committee representing Lusikisiki hawkers had come to lodge a complaint against the local mayor, several members of his senior staff and the local municipal police. The allegations included abuse of power, harassment and a request that the Public Protector investigate how a sum of over R5million donated by the Italian government for the advancement of informal traders was used and for whose benefit.
The Public Protector moves on to KwaZulu-Natal where meetings will be held between Tuesday and Wednesday.
Issued by:
Kgalalelo Masibi 
Spokesperson for the Public Protector
Tel: (012) 366 7006
Cell: 079 507 0399
Published Date: 
Sunday, July 22, 2012