3 August 2012

South Africa: Public Protector Calls for Punishment of Incompetent Contractors

press release

Incompetent RDP housing contractors should not be allowed to operate with impunity as this drains the much needed public resources, Public Protector Advocate Thuli Madonsela said at the conclusion of her visit to the North West on Friday.

Recounting some of the recurring complaints brought to her attention by community members during a Stakeholder Consultative Dialogue and Public Hearing at the Provincial Legislature in Mahikeng, the Public Protector said there should be serious consequences for contractors delivering shoddy work.

"When it comes to repairing structurally defective homes, government always steps in with more resources while the contractor lives happily ever after and continues to get more tenders," she said.

The Public Protector has been in the province as part of the her Stakeholder Consultative Dialogue, which puts a spotlight on the need to work together to end maladministration and ensure responsive service delivery, with a special focus on problems plaguing RDP housing and alleged regulatory gaps regarding alleged illegal conversion of panel vans into taxis.

Distressed community members also spoke of contractors that forced people to sign "happy letters" that falsely confirmed that projects were delivered according to specifications. They further alleged some projects had been abandoned halfway through yet contractors were paid in full for the same jobs.

Other recurring themes throughout the North West hearings were the plight of pensioners, some of whom were in their 90s and have been waiting for houses since applying in 1994.

Other complaints included allegations of fraud and corruption in the procurement of RDP housing, lack of transparency in the allocation of houses and discrimination -in the allocation of houses- against citizens who speak foreign languages after having lived in neighbouring countries.

Furthermore, there were complaints over electricity supply, delayed road construction projects and alleged tender irregularities relating to such projects, police brutality and the use of law enforcement agencies to settle political scores.

Lack of compliance with Integrated Development Plans, fraudulent sale of communal land, communities not benefiting from mineral rights and delayed processing of applications for operating permits for taxis were also raised as concerns.

"All these are allegations that we will have to test. On RDP matters, we will work with municipalities and the provincial government to get to the bottom of all the issues raised,"the Public Protector said.

Premier Thandi Modise, who sat through the session, said her government would cooperate with the Public Protector's investigations. "We believe most of the complaints raised here and in Klerksdorp are valid. We have also started investigating some of them," she said.

The dialogue will move to the Northern Cape next week, where the Public Protector will engage with ordinary community members in De Aar on Monday, July 6, 2012 before meeting with organised interest groups at the Provincial Legislature on Tuesday, July 7, 2012.

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