The Public Protector (PP), Busisiwe Mkhwebane, during a presentation before the Legislature in Lebowakgomo said she works well with organs of the state in Limpopo, but there are a few “bad apples” that appear to disregard the office’s processes by not cooperating with their investigations, such as the Departments of Health and Education, Lepelle Nkumpi Municipality and also the Legislature.
She singled out the Departments of Transport and Mineral Resources as being the most responsive in Limpopo.
Mkhwebane as part of a four-month long nationwide stakeholder engagement programme visited Limpopo this week. She kicked of the visit in Thohoyandou on Monday and visited the Legislature on Tuesday.
Mkhwebane said there are 179 cases at hand in the province and 652 cases have been finalised since April 2016. She said there are several cases of conduct and service failure that needed to be resolved expeditiously.
“We are inundated with complaints involving service delivery at municipal level, and 90 of the complaints are about the lack of water provision and processing of applications for RDP houses,” Mkhwebane said.
The Department of Education in Limpopo also has a large quota of complaints lodged with the PP’s office, as 70 employment related issues are to be investigated, for example the incorrect capture of pension contribution dates of retired employees, dating back to the homeland system.
Complaints against the Government Pension Administration Adjudicator over alleged incorrect calculation of pension benefits as result of incorrect information being submitted also features among the complaints received from the province.
Fifty-six matters concerning the Kutama Sinthumule Correctional Centre and child maintenance are also to be investigated, as well as 31 matters relating to alleged delays in Unemployment Insurance claims and 24 cases of irregular appointment of staff and conduct failure, mainly in the Department of Health.
Mkhwebane said when complaints are not addressed speedily, people make use of extra-judicial means of making themselves heard, such as violent protests that leave a trail of destruction in their wake. She said government has committed R150 million to fix school infrastructure that has been destroyed in Vuwani during last year’s protests. Organs of state have a duty in terms of the Constitution to assist and protect the PP to ensure the institution’s independence, impartiality, dignity and effectiveness, and failing to cooperate with investigations, the PP could use powers to subpoena, order search and seizures and issue contempt of the PP orders.
If remedial action is ignored, the PP could elevate to the level of Parliament, which may summon state actors concerned to appear before Parliament and explain their reluctance to comply, or we could go to court to enforce our decisions, which, according to the Constitutional Court, is binding.
Story: NELIE ERASMUS