Western Cape legislature welcomes Public Protector’s feedback; Public Protector meets with opposition parties

Public Protector Adv. Thuli Madonsela’s feedback to the Western Cape Provincial Legislature following her recent engagement with stakeholders in the province was welcomed by provincial authorities in Cape Town on Thursday night.

Accompanied by her deputy, Adv. Kevin Malunga, the Public Protector shared with the provincial legislature her observations during interfaces with the community of Paarl and formal stakeholders in Cape Town in July. She also reflected on her interactions with both staff and patients at Phola Park clinic in Mbekweni township, Paarl Hospital and Brooklyn Clinic in Milnerton.

The Public Protector visited the province in July as part of her annual stakeholder dialogue. The campaign focused on strengthening government’s ability to deliver on Millennium Development Goals ( MGDs), particularly those on ending poverty and on health.

Among issues brought to the attention of authorities, including Premier Helen Zille, were staff attitudes towards patients, including allegations of racist conduct, long waiting times and language barriers between staff and patients at Phola Park clinic.

Members of the legislature also heard about the problem of understaffing, shortage of medical supplies such as chronic medication, shortage of equipment at Phola Park clinic and problems with the ambulance service.

The Public Protector also reported on complaints relating to RDP houses, sanitation, social security, unemployment, rising electricity costs, land claims, pensions for former public servants and the alleged marginalization of traditional authorities, particularly the Khoi-San community.

She told the house that, like in other provinces, her office had been unable to get from the Western Cape an integrated anti-poverty strategy that had clear annual targets in the build up to 2015 - a year on which the country will report on its performance regarding MGDs.

Responding to the Public Protector’s observations, Premier Zille said her government appreciated the report back. She said a single person that suffered an injustice at the hands of the state was one too many.

Premier Zille said although the provincial population had grown by 30% as indicated by the latest Census, funding had not been commensurate with the increase. She said her province’s strategic plan was essentially the provincial government’s poverty strategy.

The Premier reiterated the point that the province was addressing the problem of staff attitudes, and added that chronic medication was now being delivered to patients’ homes in a bid to lift the load off the clinics.

Some members of the legislature requested the Public Protector to look into sanitation issues in the province and housing matters affecting townships such as Khayelitsha. They alleged that service delivery in the province was skewed and biased towards urban areas.

The Public Protector earlier held a similar meeting with opposition parties, where it was agreed that she should no longer meet separately with opposition parties and the ruling party as part of her annual stakeholder dialogue.

Future gatherings of that nature would be more effective if all parties represented in Parliament met with the Public Protector under one roof, the meeting resolved. However, the Public Protector remains open to meeting with any stakeholder on a one-to-one basis. This includes political parties.

Attended by the DA, UDM, ACDP, APC, AZAPO, IFP, UCDP, FF+ and the MF, the meeting also agreed that the continued direct involvement of ward councillors in government’s poverty eradication projects such as RDP programme and distribution of food parcels amounted to politicization of poverty.

The meeting agreed that such work should be left to administrative staff, who are political officials while councillors, as politicians, should be confined to oversight work. The issue was sparked by complaints made to the Public Protector during the dialogue over the past two months, where some members of the public complained that they were denied services on the basis of political allegiance.

The meeting also agreed that some beneficiaries of the state’s land restitution programme have been failed by the administration as they have not received the necessary support from government.

The Public Protector also reported to the parties challenges relating to the health sector as observed during her tour of the provinces. The challenges mirror those the Public Protector reported to the provincial legislature. Some representatives of parties confirmed the Public Protector’s observations, indicating that they had witnessed similar issues during their activities as members of Parliamentary Portfolio Committees.

For more information, contact:

Kgalalelo Masibi
Public Protector South Africa
012 366 7006
079 507 0399
0800 11 20 40


Published Date: 
Friday, September 13, 2013