You will agree with me that not much has been heard from the Public Protector Busisiwe Mkhwebane’s office of recent, well, the public Protector says it’s because her department lacks necessary resources that would help start work.
Citing challenges faced by her department, Mkhwebane says her office can’t fulfill its mandate because of a lack of funding for operation. She also cited lack of cooperation from organs of state as another hindrance.
Advocate Mkhwebane who was briefing the justice portfolio committee in the parliament said she needs a financial budget of at least a billion rand to carry out her prosecuting jobs.
In her briefing, the advocate said her budget stands at just over R300 million for this year as about seventy-eight percent of her budget goes to salary payment.
Mkhwebane’s budget is set to rise to R337 million by 2019 and she said her office cannot fulfill its constitutional and legal mandate because it does not have enough funds.
“The overarching strategic risk impacting on our constitutional mandate are: inability to fully implement the institution legislative mandate due to under-funding and lack of cooperation from some of the organs of the state,” she said
“For us to be fully operational, with our structure being fully funded, only 50% of our staff are funded, it’s around R1 billion to stay afloat. I know it might be scary, but it’s a reality.”
During her seven-year term, former Public Protector Thuli Madonsela repeatedly asked Parliament for additional funding but found little support. Mkhwebane hopes her tenure won’t face same financial difficulty.
Early this month, the Public Protector said she would launch an investigation into the South African Social Security Agency (Sassa) grant saga, and the delays in implementing the decision of the Constitutional Court in 2014.
The Advocate’s decision on SASSA came at the time the department came under fire for not finding a new cash distributor with fears that grants may not be paid in April.
The constitutional court made the provisions for the payment to be made, by the Social Development Minister Bathabile Dlamini is still being forced to foot the legal bills despite her apology.
“To the minister of social development, the public protector was merely saying that she has decided to launch an investigation into the maladministration aspect of the whole saga; in other words, she was going to focus on the apparent delay on the part of Sassa and the department,” said Public Protector’s Spokesperson Oupa Segalwe.