Public Protector calls for accountability, as inspired by Madiba
Public Protector Advocate Busisiwe Mkhwebane called on members of the executive arm of government in the Eastern Cape to follow in the footsteps of the late former President, Rholihlahla Mandela, by being accountable whenever their conduct is under the scrutiny of constitutional institutions.
This was during her three-day road show in the province last week, under the theme ‘Governance and Ethics’.
The roadshow targets newly appointed members of the executive arm of government in provinces to enforce the ethics code. “Being held to account was never a source of irritation to President Mandela. Even when his own supporters saw some of his appearances as a president in court as humiliation, President Mandela was not offended. Instead he saw his attendance of the proceedings as a sign of respect for the administration of justice,” she said.
Referring to some of the challenges she has encountered in the course of her work, Mkhwebane said there have been instances where subjects of her investigations objected fiercely to being held to account and, instead, sought to discredit her office in the eyes of the public. She took Premier Mabuyane and his team through some of the investigations her office has conducted including complaints against former EC MEC Pemmy Majodina, now ANC Chief Whip in parliament.
The Public Protector has a duty to investigate any alleged breaches of codes and report to the President or Premiers. Only members of the executive and legislative arms of government can complain to the Public Protector about alleged breaches such as misleading the legislature, using the positions entrusted to them to enrich themselves or improperly benefit another person and exposing themselves to risk of conflict between the official responsibilities and their private interests.
She encouraged the provincial to disclose their interests within the period prescribed by the Executive Code of Ethics to avoid finding themselves on the wrong side of the law.
Mkhwebane also engaged the public as part of her office’s outreach and public awareness programme for Mandela Day.
She visited Dimbaza where she took service and conduct failure complaints from members of the public. She visited the Sinomonde Old Age Home in KwaMlakalaka village near King Williams Town where she took part in humanitarian work. “One hopes that one day sanity will prevail and that people will in the end understand that we are all equal before the law as the Constitution tells us,” she said.