Public Protector calls on public servants to build a caring, listening and ethical state
14 Sep 2012
Public Protector, Adv Thuli Madonsela called on all public servants to use the 15th anniversary of Batho Pele to reenergise efforts aimed at improving public service delivery to ensure that the state is more efficient and effective in creating enabling conditions for improved quality of life for all persons and the freed potential of each person. She said this when addressing the North West Senior Management Conference in Mafikeng on Thursday. The conference was themed “How can we as Public Servants improve service delivery in the province?”
She urged public servants to let the Constitution, particularly Section 237which stipulates that all constitutional obligations must be performed diligently and without delay, to guide their decisions and actions. Citizens want a state that cares, listens and is ethical. When linking the Batho Pele Principles and the Public Protector, Adv Madonsela said that proper conduct as envisaged in the mandate of the Public Protector under section 182 transcends lawfulness of state actions. She said proper conduct was about the right thing to do by state decision-makers as persons entrusted with public power. “If the law allows, this does not make it right.
Citizens are shareholders and not customers and accordingly they deserve more from those they have entrusted with the power to manage their affairs and resources. She further said that where promises have been made in the Constitution or directly to the citizens, it was wrong to brand the people as a complaining public when they exact accountability in the face non delivery or poor delivery. She gave an example of the case where a 40 square meter RDP house is promised and a much smaller house or a house that is falling apart is delivered. She said that in such cases the people have a right to complain. The Public Protector said that when she also gave an example of Ms X who was dismissed for being a whistleblower and lodged a complaint with the Public Protector. The Public Protector conciliated with effect that she would be reinstated in April 2011 and paid back her salary for the months while at home but to date the remedial action is yet to be implemented while a bank is foreclosing on her house, among the many prejudices she is consequentially suffering.
The Public Protector asked the question whether the above example of Ms X, is indicative of a caring organ of state. She hastened to remind public servants that they occupy spaces in the public service as servants of the people. She said members of the public approach the state not as beggars but coming to collect their rights as enshrined in the Constitution. She said Batho Pele requires consultation and redress among others. The Public Protector urged all to respect the rights of all people enshrined in Section 9 of the Constitution and to reconcile their service ethos with the character of the state envisaged under chapter 10 of the Constitution, where public service principles are outlined and in line with the constitutional vision in the preamble and foundational values in section 1 of the Constitution discharge their duties justly, fairly and without delay.
The Public Protector explained that public service delivery is not confined to state delivery of basic services such as education, water, food, housing and social security. She stated that the state’s role primarily involves the classical function of regulation and that it was in the area of regulation where state actors often drop the ball. To illustrate this point, she mentioned the complaint from the Bapong Community who have alleged that the state has failed them, through regulatory failure. Currently, there is systemic governance failure in that community and the community has been without a chief for a long time. In the meantime there are allegations of systematic looting of the collective resources of the community, including funds under an account called a D Account, which is managed by public servants.
She applauded the Premier for complying with her office’s request to join hands to facilitate the Public Protector’s investigation and mediation process in the Bapo community. The Public Protector applauded the public servants to provide excellent service stating that these were in the majority and that it was through their efforts that South Africa had come this far. She also applauded the achievements of the paralympic team for excellence and success against many odds. She concluded with appealed to public servants to join hands with her office root out corruption, maladministration to create a state that is accountable, operates with integrity and is responsive.
Issued by: Public Protector South Africa
14 Sep 2012
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