Public Protector calls on departments to implement remedial actions

Friday, March 1, 2019

A lack of implementation of remedial actions renders a constitutional institution toothless, that’s according to Public Protector Busisiwe Mkhwebane.

The Public Protector said this on Thursday, as she informed the public about a number of government institutions that have not implemented remedial actions as contained in several of her reports.

Mkhwebane said this is despite the 2016 landmark ruling by the Constitutional Court affirming that the Public Protector’s powers are binding.

“I have investigated, reported and taken appropriate remedial action and yet the complainants in the matters concerned are still waiting for implementation of those remedies.

“In most cases, those left high and dry are those very people at the grassroots -- a section of society that does not have the means to take government to court as a way of protecting themselves from prejudicial decisions of the state,” said the Public Protector.

Among those fingered by Mkhwebane is the National Treasury, the Government Employees’ Pension Fund (GEPF), Eskom, the South African National Defence Force (SANDF), the Department of Higher Education and Training, and the City of Tshwane.

Treasury and GEPF 

The Public Protector highlighted the Vhembe Concerned Pensioners case, in which pensioners complained that National Treasury and GEPF had acted improperly while privatising the Venda Pension Fund.

Mkhwebane described the case as one that best “demonstrates the gravity of the problem” faced by her office.

Following an investigation in 2011, the Public Protector made findings in favour of the complainants.

It found, among other things, that the complainants suffered prejudice as they were influenced to privatise their pension benefits but were not properly informed about the consequences of privatisation.

uMzimkhulu Local Municipality 

In the matter involving alleged corruption and maladministration at uMzimkhulu municipality in KwaZulu-Natal in 2018, Mkhwebane said the Police Minister failed to provide protection to two whistle blowers, who exposed the use of public funds.

“As we speak, we have two whistle blowers in KZN who are on the run, having fled their homes after several threats were made on their lives. Their crime is lifting the lid on the maladministration that took place in uMzimkhulu,” she said.

SANDF

In the case of SANDF, the Public Protector said the Defence Minister failed to implement the remedial action in the case of Babalo Mvithi, a former Lieutenant-Colonel in the South African National Defence Force.

The former Lieutenant-Colonel and his family are without a source of income because of maladministration on the part of the Department of Defence and Military Veterans.

“We confirmed the finding of the Ombudsman and took remedial action, all in vain.

“Now and again, Mr Mvithi writes to me, complaining that my office is doing nothing about his plight when in fact we have done all that we could,” said the Public Protector.

Concluding her briefing, the Public Protector said her act of naming departments that have failed to comply with her remedial action was an appeal to ensure justice for those affected.

"This is an act of appealing to the conscience and morality of the culprits by publishing details of their misdeeds,” said Mkhwebane. – SAnews.gov.za

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