Public Protector encouraged by Eastern Cape government’s will to cooperate with investigations
The Public Protector South Africa (PPSA) is encouraged by the Eastern Cape Provincial Government's will — as expressed by Premier Oscar Mabuyane — to cooperate and comply with investigations and remedial action, respectively.
During a stakeholder roadshow meeting with Public Protector Adv. Busisiwe Mkhwebane and Deputy Public Protector Adv. Kholeka Gcaleka in East London on Friday, Premier Mabuyane said it was undesirable that some organs of state in his administration have not heeded the Public Protector's remedial action.
He hinted at the prospects of a monthly or quarterly arrangement, where the provincial administration could feedback to the PPSA, reporting on progress registered in respect of giving effect to the remedial steps set out in investigation reports that are not the subject of court interdicts and review proceedings.
Premier Mabuyane further informed Adv. Mkhwebane and Adv. Gcaleka that his office had written to nearly all provincial government departments, reminding them of the Public Protector's findings and remedial action. He promised action against municipalities that tend to ignore investigation reports, adding that the provincial government would write to the PPSA, providing progress on the ongoing implementation of remedial action.
Addressing the meeting earlier, Adv. Mkhwebane had raised concerns about more than a dozen investigation reports whose remedial action was either partially implemented or not implemented at all. These include reports on the systemic investigation conducted into the state of four public hospitals in the province and the Nelson Mandela funeral.
All in all, the PPSA has a total of 219 pending investigations against a number of organs of state in the Eastern Cape. More than a 100 of these are service delivery-related while 81 have to do with maladministration. Over the last financial year, there has been an increase in complaints relating to the unlawful occupation of RDP houses; civil servant's leave gratuity and pension; water shortages, poor road infrastructure; failure to follow public procurement processes; and unlawful withdrawal of social grants.
Also speaking at the meeting, which was hosted by Speaker of the Provincial Legislature, Hon. Helen Sauls-August, Members of the Executive Council, senior officials and Nkosi Langa Mavuso, the Chairperson of the Provincial House of Traditional and Khoi-San Leaders, Adv. Gcaleka invited Premier Mabuyane and his executive to approach the PPSA with requests for the investigation of their own concerns regarding unbecoming conduct in the provincial administration.
She explained that they would be following in the footsteps of Deputy Minister of Justice John Jeffery, late former Minister Kader Asmal and former President Kgalema Motlanthe, all of whom have previously referred matters about their departments or themselves to the PPSA for investigation. Adv. Gcaleka said this was more cost-effective when compared with government expenditure on forensic investigation firms which produce reports that end up gathering dust in file cabinets.
"Ours should be a relationship of trust where the government acknowledges that independent constitutional institutions are there to strengthen constitutional democracy. We are all governed by the law and must therefore join hands," she said.
Adv. Mkhwebane and Adv. Gcaleka later conducted an inspection in loco 200km away at the Ndlovukazi Stadium in Lesseyton outside Komani in the Enoch Mgijima Local Municipality as part of an ongoing investigation into the procurement process followed to construct the facility at an alleged cost of R16million. The investigation was triggered by three complaints from members of the public.
The Eastern Cape was the ninth province the PPSA visited since kick-starting the roadshow mid-February. Although all provinces have been covered, the PPSA could not engage with the Speaker of the Provincial Legislature Hon. Nontembeko Boyce and Premier of KwaZulu-Natal Sihle Zikalala due to clashing schedules. An engagement with them will take place in due course.
During the roadshow, the PPSA engaged parties interested in the office’s work in fulfilment of the office’s constitutional mandate to investigate, report on and remedy any alleged or suspected improper conduct in all state affairs and to be accessible to all persons and communities. A report on the roadshow will be prepared.