Public Protector urges public to use her office more

Friday, March 3, 2017

Mbombela - Public Protector Busisiwe Mkhwebane has encouraged the public to approach her office when they have exhausted all complaints avenues closer to them. 

Speaking to members of the Mpumalanga legislature on Thursday, in Mbombela, during stakeholder meetings where she is engaging all legislatures around the country, Mkhwebane said her office will in this term prioritise not only high profile cases, but those of poor and ordinary citizens, who often find themselves without a way to get heard.  

Mkhwebane said the office aimed to utilise tribal offices in rural areas as Public Protector regional offices so that people who live in far flung areas can access a Public Protector office that is closer to them, instead of travelling to the provincial capital to lodge complaints.

"As the Public Protector, we are encouraging people to know their rights and exhaust all avenues and use our offices as the last resort. I will work with you guys. You need to understand that we have to keep the constitutional mandate of the office, with you playing an oversight role to government.

"For this, we have decided that we have many cases and some cases might not have been reported. We urge our people, especially you, when you hold your public participation, to make sure people know about the office.

“To make sure that our offices are accessible by our people, who are the poorest of the poor. We aim to open regional offices, especially in the tribal offices around the country, because we understand some people cannot access our offices because they are in town," said Mkhwebane. 

Mkhwebane encouraged members of the legislature to report departments, either national or provincial, that are not responsive to people.

"The legislature is one body that should play an oversight role and you have the right to report departments, like on issues of labour where you see that the Labour Department did not do their job properly, you can have that reported to the Public Protector after exhausting all avenues, including talking to the Minister and the MEC of such a department," said Mkhwebane. 

She said there were cases of service delivery failures that were easy to resolve but she encouraged the public to bring her leads so that she can promptly launch investigations.

"We are investigating many cases which include SASSA unauthorised debit orders. In this province, cases of service delivery failures are prevalent, and on matters of maladministration, we are encouraging the provincial government to act swiftly,” she said.  

Mkhwebane said her office has signed a memorandum of understanding with the Auditor General, where departments and public entities that are serial offenders when it comes to unauthorised and fruitless expenditure, will be investigated by her office. –

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