Public Protector lauds Gauteng government’s handling of investigations against its departments
Public Protector Adv. Busisiwe Mkhwebane has hailed the Gauteng Provincial Government’s approach to accountability institutions’ investigative processes as a best practice that other provincial administrations and municipalities should learn from and emulate. This follows Premier David Makhura’s revelation during a Stakeholder Roadshow meeting in Pretoria on Friday that his administration has a dedicated, central unit that deals with queries, findings and remedial action from institutions such as the Public Protector South Africa (PPSA).
The provincial government also compiles and keeps a record of the number of investigations each of the accountability instigations has against any of its departments and entities. It also tracks progress in respect of the implementation of remedial action, in cases where investigations reports are not being challenged in court. Adv. Mkhwebane’s remarks came as she and Premier Makhura cemented cooperation between their offices with the signing of a Memorandum of Understanding aimed at ensuring that requests for investigation-related information are responded promptly to expedite investigative processes.
Overdue and inadequate responses or failure to respond at all to allegations and requests for documents as part of investigations ranks among the leading obstacles to the quick resolution of complaints and swift investigations. This often leaves complainants in limbo. “It is a breath of fresh air. Other organs of state should benchmark against the Gauteng model. It is in the best interests of good governance and impactful service delivery in state affairs and in the public administration,” Adv. Mkhwebane said.
Earlier during the meeting, Adv. Mkhwebane told Premier Makhura, Deputy Speaker of the Provincial Legislature Hon. Nomvuyo Mahlakaza-Manamela, MEC Lebogang Maile, Acting Director-General, Thabo Masebe, and City of Tshwane Council Speaker Cllr. Murunwa Makwarela that the PPSA had more than 200 active investigations against Gauteng organs of state.
Eighty-seven of these related to undue delays to process applications for Unemployment Insurance Fund benefits, RDP housing and child maintenance. Also included in this bracket were complaints abuse of power and irregular appointment of staff. Ten related to alleged corruption and irregular awarding of contracts for the supply of goods and services, irregular billing for services.
Seventy-three of the matters related to the City of Tshwane Metropolitan Municipality (CTMM). PPSA statistics further show that complaints relating to undue delays in the processing of applications for UIF benefits and RDP housing, among other things, jumped from 57 in 2020 to 78 in 2021 while irregular billing matters increased from 33 to 49. There was also an increase in matters relating to irregular staff appointments and tender irregularities, albeit a slight upturn. A report with a list of several investigation reports in which the implementation of remedial action is outstanding — mostly pertaining to municipalities — will be submitted to Premier Makhura and Hon. MahlakazaManamela.
Deputy Public Protector Adv. Kholeka Gcaleka said the PPSA was ready to take the relevant portfolio committees through the findings and remedies in order to give effect to accountability. CTMM Speaker, Hon. Makwarela; Acting Mayor and Member of Mayoral Council for Finance, Cllr Alderman Peter Sutton; and City Manager Ms. Mmaseabata Mutlaneng, who hosted the meeting and gave the PPSA team a warm welcome, committed to work closely with the independent constitutional institution to resolve complaints expeditiously while also complying with remedial action.
Adv. Mkhwebane and Adv. Gcaleka also visited the Amandebele-Ba-Lebelo in Majaneng outside Hammanskraal, north of Pretoria, where they conducted an inspection in loco on issues of concern including an untarred road network throughout the village, which makes movement in rainy seasons nearly impossible. Kgosi Kekana’s council is also contending with a case of land invasion which has seen a large community sprouting on its land without prior consultation. The Gauteng Office of the PPSA is attending to these and other service delivery complaints.
Through the roadshow, the PPSA seeks to strengthen ties and foster collaboration and cooperation between itself and organs of state including provincial legislatures, government departments, municipalities and traditional authorities, with a view to promoting quality service delivery and good governance in state affairs.
The roadshow has already been to the Free State, Northern Cape, KwaZulu-Natal, North West, Western Cape, Limpopo and Gauteng. The next province is Mpumalanga.