Today, a delegation from the DA met with Public Protector Adv Thuli Madonsela as part of a national stakeholders meeting. We had an opportunity to discuss progress made on the cases we have referred to her as well as the challenges which she is facing in delivering on her mandate as one of the primary corruption-busting entities in South Africa. The meeting was such that we could not get answers on individual cases today, but she has undertaken to give us a response within a week on each matter.
The DA has brought various important issues to the Public Protector’s attention over the years. These include, but are not limited to, the following:
An investigation into the textbook crisis in Limpopo, particularly the tender process;
Allegations of corruption in the awarding of contracts by the Limpopo Department of Roads and Transport which involved On-Point Engineers and Julius Malema’s Ratanang Trust;
Three investigations into Tina Joemat-Pettersson with regard to her misuse of public funds and her breach of the Executive Ethics Code;
The allegations of corruption and nepotism against suspended Crime Intelligence boss Richard Mdluli;
The process in which two VIP jets were to be purchased by the Department of Defence and Military Veterans at the cost of over R2 billion for President Zuma; and
Allegations of Minister of Communications Dina Pule’s conflict of interest in the ICT Indaba.
The DA also raised concerns with the delays in responding to requests for investigation and the completion of investigations. The recently released Public Protector’s Annual Report for 2011/2012 revealed that there is currently a backlog of 10 183 cases.
The Public Protector has seen an increase in the number of cases received in the last year from 16 251 in 2010/2011 to 20 626 2011/2012 with 16 763 cases finalised in 2011/2012. She also confirmed that the requests she is receiving are becoming more complex and more time-consuming.
The fact that there has been an increase in the number of cases received by the Public Protector shows that the public sees the importance of her office and its oversight role. It is also an indication, in our view, that the Public Protector is having to assist in so many matters because of the government’s failure to provide adequate services, as well as the failure of the police and other institutions in the criminal justice system failing to do their job.
Whilst the Public Protector has been given additional resources, she clearly requires more in order to fulfil the vital function she is performing. Until the government and criminal justice system manages to gain trust of the public, it appears that the number of investigations will continue to increase.
The DA will engage further with the Public Protector during the upcoming Annual Report hearings, to interrogate her requests for the following:
A functional Case Management System, a Call Centre and Regional and Mobile Offices;
Assistance with organs of state that fail to cooperate with investigations and recommendations; and
The promotion of respect for institutional independence.
We will support her requests as far as possible within the available state resources, and will continue to support the important work that she does in supporting democracy.