- The South African office of the Public Protector has more vicious teeth than anyone ever imagined, but what lacks are the resources to expedite the duty without hindrance.
This is what the newly appointed public protector in South Africa, Advocate Tuli Madonsela, told the media yesterday following her consultations that took her and her team across the breath and width of the country.
Ms Madonsela said with the current team of investigators and limited resources such as working space and accessible offices, especially for the rural communities, the task in her new job was still an uphill.
Recent public statements and denouncements by different speakers put South Africa is heading towards topping the African chats on corruption with a number of top ruling party officials as well as government officers being implicated in corrupt awarding of contracts and tenders.
In 2004 only, some R40 billion (euro 4 billion) reportedly changed hands during corrupt transactions and this was "growing all the time", retired judge Willem Heath told the SACP anti-corruption seminar this week.
Ivor Sarakinsky, from the School of Public Development Management at the University of the Witwatersrand, added that the tender system was a "big issue" when it came to corruption, adding that corruption was getting so endemic that it would soon reach the point of no return.
Minister for Higher Education, Blade Nzimande, who is also the SACP general secretary, said that "alternatives" to tenders, without the involvement of "middle men", should be explored, stressing that not every government service must be converted into a tender. The office of the Public Protector has been largely asked to be more accessible to the general public and to ensure that it does not become too legally demanding for the ordinary citizens to report wrong-doing.
Ms Madonsela said the public protector needed more investigators to do its job well and deal with the possible workload, saying that at present, the office has the entire national staff was 153 people.
She also said the office needed to open more regional offices to avoid costly travel by citizens to access her offices.
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