BY BAKANG MOKOTO
South African Public Protector, Advocate Busisiwe Mkhwebane met with stakeholder at the North West Provincial Legislature in Mahikeng on Thursday. Mkhwebane said her visit was to harness good working relationship with institutions tasked with oversight over the executive, provincial legislatures.
“We need to harness close working for greater impact. Our meeting can only bode well for good governance. The Public Protector has effectively worked with this legislature before to hold the executive to account. We were one of several investigative institutions that we were called upon by the North West Standing Committee on Public Accounts (NWSCOPA) in January 2013.
“We investigated allegations of maladministration, abuse of power and irregular expenditure in the appointment of a law firm as a service provider for Finance, Economy and Enterprise Development department,” Mkwebane said.
She said that the report was subsequently handed over to NWSCOPA in Madibeng on August 29 back in 2016. Mkhwebane said the report revealed gory details of how R15million in public money was irregularly spent by the department to procure legal services for disciplinary enquiries of three officials.
“I will be in Bokone Bophirima over the next two days as part of a nationwide blitz that commenced in Johannesburg mid-February. The aim of this roadshow is threefold and I deemed it fit to not just waltz into office quietly and start writing to stakeholders to inform them that my office is investigating their conduct.
“It was paramount importance for me to take the people of South Africa into my confidence regarding the plans that I have for his institution over the seven years of my non-renewable term of office. It was essential for me to reveal my vision for the institution and hear from stakeholders what they think of it,” she said.
Mkhwebane said it was crucial for her to listen to the people. She further said false information has been said about her.
“I want to grant the people of this country an opportunity to engage in an unmediated fashion with me. We will proceed to Madibogo village on Friday to engage with the masses. Along with the Auditor-General, the Human Rights Commission, the Commission on Gender Equality, the Commission for the Promotion and Protection of the Rights of Cultural, Religious and Linguistic Communities and the Electoral Commission, we established by Section 181 of the Constitution to support constitutional democracy.
“We have the power to receive protected disclosures and serve as a safe haven for whistleblowers under the Protected Disclosures Act. The power to review the decisions of the National Home Builders Registration Council under the National Protection of Housing Measures Act,” Mkhwebane said.
She said the Public Protector’ services are free. Mkhwebane said Nkgono from Majemantho in Mahikeng does not need money to call them. Mkhwebane said people can call them on toll-free line.
“My vision for this institution is that of a Public Protector that is a stronghold and a place of refuge for the poor and the marginalized. It is of a Public Protector that is an avenue for justice in disputes between the people and the state. At the core of this vision, is the need for this institution to be accessible to all people.
“We have offices in Mahikeng, Rustenburg and in Klerksdorp. This will ensure that we are closer to the corridors of power. Our aim is to seek and obtain answers on behalf of the people. This has to be counter-balanced with the constitutional injunction for us to be accessible,” she said.