Welcome to the Mpumalanga Provincial Government

Remarks by Premier R.M. Mtshweni-Tsipane on the occasion of the Public Protector roadshow

14 March 2022

Programme Director,
The Speaker of the Mpumalanga Provincial Legislature, Honourable Makhosazane Masilela
Members of the Executive Council Present;
The Office of the Public Protector, led by Advocate Busisiwe Mkhwebane;
The Chairperson of the Mpumalanga House of Traditional Leaders, Inkosi SG Ngomane;
Senior Managers of the Mpumalanga Provincial Government, led by the Director General, Mr. Makhukhu Mampuru;
Ladies and gentlemen;
Good morning;

  1. Programme Director, it is indeed an honour to join you all as we convene under the auspices of the Public Protector roadshow. This is the first gathering of this kind since the advent of the Covid-19 pandemic. As Advocate Mkhwebane will recall, our last meeting of this nature was in 2020 at the Executive Council Lekgotla, a full month before Mpumalanga Province reported its first Covid 19 case.

  2. As we approach the light at the end of the tunnel, we must prepare for a new normal and find ways to resuscitate accountability, effective oversight through the development of efficient, solution driven intergovernmental relations with chapter 9 institutions such as the Public Protector.

  3. Programme Director, since the advent of our democracy, the Office of the Public Protector has grown into a respected pillar of our democratic architecture.

  4. Advocate Mkhwebane, the outstanding work of the collective you lead has earned the respect of the people of Mpumalanga, Parliament and Government at all levels.

  5. We have all witnessed your commitment to serving the marginalised and disenfranchised cohort of our population.

  6. As Government, we appreciate the value of your oversight work and the timeous identification any possible abuses of our mandate to the electorate.

  7. The central importance you assign to complainants, regardless of their race or creed is an affirmation to the principle of participatory democracy as envisioned by the Constitution.

  8. Programme Director, as I have indicated earlier, Covid-19 has affected our ability to interact with the Office of the Public Protector in forums such as this. However, our work with the Office of the Public Protector has continued.

  9. In 2021 alone, a total of 103 investigations were opened by the Public Protector concerning either Provincial Government Departments, Municipalities and our state owned entities.

  10. Whilst most of these have been successfully concluded, there are around 9 or so open investigations that are not progressing because of a failure to provide the Office of the Public Protector with the requested information.

  11. An example of such a failure is the complaint lodged by Mr. Thukwane regarding the water challenges within the Dr JS Moroka local municipality. To date , the Acting Accounting Officer of the municipality has failed to honour commitments to provide requested information despite numerous commitments to do so.

  12. There is also the complaint lodged by Mr. Gumbi against the Nkomazi local Municipality for failure to pay for services rendered. In this case, a subpoena had been obtained to compel the Accounting Officer and his successor in title to compel them to provide the required information.

  13. These are two examples of a common pattern by Accounting Officers to avoid accountability to Chapter 9 institutions.

  14. This is a material transgression and those not co-operating with the Office of the Public Protector will are in violation of the law in accordance with section 25 and 25 of the Public Protector Act, as amended.

  15. In order to entrench accountability, I will assist the work of the Public Protector and ensure that concomitant disciplinary action is taken against officials of the Provincial government who refuse to co-operate with the Public Protector or any other Chapter 9 institution.

  16. Furthermore, we will incorporate accountability to Chapter 9 institutions as a key pillar of the annual performance agreements entered into with senior managers of government as well as Accounting Officers.

  17. We will inculcate the values of integrity and honesty in all public servants as a preventative measure against non-cooperation with the Public Protector.

  18. Programme Director, as I had indicated earlier, the post Covid-19 reality requires us to develop new and effective ways to conduct our work.

  19. I have noted that investigations assigned to the Mpumalanga Province are not sifted in relation to the nature of the complaint.

  20. For example, the complaint lodged by Ms. Morare against the Department of Justice for the failure to implement a court order for the garnishee of funds for purposes of child maintenance.

  21. Ideally, this would be a matter for the national Office of the Public Protector to investigate, however it is assigned to the Province and the already limited resources of the Office of the Provincial Representative are utilised investigating a matter that is ,at face value, a matter of national competence.

  22. In this vein, I want to request the Office of the Public Protector to consider a different approach to managing case loads in this Province.

  23. I propose that cases referred assigned to the Province be cases that involve an institution of government, an enterprise or any other organisation or enterprise that operates in the Province. This will assist us in apportioning responsibility to the relevant entity and will augment our ability to enforce accountability.

  24. Furthermore, in order for the Executive arm of the Provincial government to be able to aid and complement the work of the Public Protector, may I request that going forward, my Office be appraised of any new investigation that concerns a Provincial Department or entity.

  25. If this information is availed, we shall then be in a position to ensure that we adhere to the time frames prescribed by the Office of the Public Protector and eliminate the propensity to not avail information when it is required.

  26. I will also request that Public Protector reports become a monthly item in the Provincial Management Committee Meetings that encompasses Accounting Officers of the various Departments and is led by the Director General.

  27. As a government born of a century-old liberation movement, we remain committed to protecting the gains of our democratic dispensation and will aid the operational activities of the Office of the public Protector in our Province.

  28. The people of Mpumalanga want to see this institution grow from strength to strength and continue serving them diligently, independently and without fear or favour.

  29. I thank you.

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