14 August 2012

South Africa: Public Protector Calls on Limpopo Residents to Join Hands With Her Office to End Maladministration

Photo: Oxfam
Water tap: People believe that the water crisis is a legacy problem which has been caused, in part, by the failure to maintain infrastructure.

press release

Public Protector Advocate Thuli Madonsela has on Tuesday called on residents of Limpopo to join hands with her office to end maladministration and ensure that the government delivers on its promise to the people.

She was speaking during her office's stakeholder consultative dialogue and public hearing in Polokwane. The meeting focused on the Reconstruction and Development Programme (RDP) houses and the regulatory gaps in the alleged illegal conversion of panel vans into taxis.

At the meeting the Public Protector was asked to investigate the Limpopo provincial cooperative governance, human settlement and traditional affairs for alleged corrupt activities in the awarding of tenders for RDP projects in the province.

The allegations which included the improper blacklisting of companies, allocation of tenders to non-performing companies, were raised during the Public Protector's stakeholder consultative dialogue and public hearings in Polokwane where she met with interest groups mainly drawn from civil society, provincial and local government.

The hearings form part of the systemic investigation the Public Protector is currently conducting after receiving a flood of complaints on RDP houses in the country. In the past year, the Public Protector received close to 300 complaints related to housing in the province, mainly from the Thabazimbi area.

Limpopo was the sixth province to be visited by the Public Protector. Just like in other provinces where she had been to, the Public Protector received complaints with allegations of structural defects, use of inferior material when building RDP houses, delay in the allocation of houses, fraud and corruption in the awarding of RDP houses tenders.

Some went on to alleged that houses were built using inferior material, allocated to spouses of municipal employees and others water and electricity problems. Others complained about houses being given to people of foreign nationals. There was a call for a tightening of the law on the selling and renting of RDP houses.

Some complaints related to the access lack of education for deaf people and how the language barrier is being attended to by the Department of Education. They accused the Department of Education of deployment of teachers with no expertise of teaching deaf people.

The Public Protector also heard from Somali refugees who alleged that police officials were illegally closing down their businesses. Others complained about the lack of medicine on provincial health centres. One complaint told the Public Protector how many times his ailing father was sent back from a provincial health facility because there was no medicine.

On the issue of alleged regulatory caps in the illegal conversion of panel vans into taxis, the Public Protector learnt about among others a man who had bought a converted taxi from a car dealership. He told the Public Protector that he had all relevant documents but the Department of Transport has refused to renew his licence citing non-compliance of the car.

Others complaints related to delay on land claims which others alleged that it takes 14 years, farms being run by trusts and lack of medicine in provincial health facilities.

The Public Protector said she was happy with the progress made by the some of the MECs on addressing matters raised during last year's event.

"We are encouraged by the fact action is being taken to remedy the situation," she said. The Public Protector promised that her office will meet with the municipalities and departments to address concerns raised with immediate effect.

Executive Mayor of Polokwane Honourable Freddy Greaver called on provincial authorities and all public office bearers to support the office of the Public Protector and avail themselves to process of the office when needed to.

"If we, as public office bearers are not prepared to work with the office, how we expect members of the communities to support the office," he asked. He went on to praise the Public Protector for a sterling job she continues to do.

The Public Protector will conclude her visit in the province with an outreach event in Thabazimbi on Wednesday.

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