Deputy Public Protector Adv Kevin Malunga on Friday explained that the Public Protector did not exist to "nail" people but to protect the gains of South Africa's young democracy.
Speaking in Cape Town, at the Youth Presidents' Organisation- World Presidents' Organisation Conference themed "MBA in a Day/Sink or Swim - Resilient Leadership", Adv Malunga told delegates that the Public Protector represented an evolution of a modern democratic oversight body, which has moved away from being a mere complaints body to an architect of good governance.
In a speech titled The Role of the Public Protector in Keeping South Africa Afloat; Adv Malunga said the important work of the Public Protector had to locate the institution at the centre of the struggle to attain good administration in order to sustain good governance in state affairs.
"Essentially the Public Protector helps people exact accountability from those they have entrusted with public power when direct accountability fails. This includes ensuring justice for state wrongs or maladministration and accountability for control over state resources," he said.
Adv Malunga indicated that the Public Protector's contribution to the promotion of integrity and good governance also sought to form part of moral regeneration, including the entrenchment of anticorruption attitudes and behaviour in both the public sector and civil society.
"This should include ensuring that all understand that government money is not "orphaned" money but public money to be used to give effect to a better life for all as promised by the Constitution."
However, said Adv Malunga, the power to turn the tide against maladministration and corruption in pursuit of the consolidation of the country's democracy lay in a collective effort, adding that one of the things the country needed to do was to stop politicising corruption and take responsibility for it.
He emphasised that an essential factor to deal with the challenge of corruption was to strengthen public accountability by empowering civil society to ask questions. This also meant strengthening whistle blower protection and usage as well as ensuring media freedom and ending impunity.
Adv Malunga added that the Public Protector was mindful of the fact that the institution's respectability, credibility and legitimacy among the stakeholders over whom it exercised jurisdiction were vital for its success.
Issued by: Public Protector South Africa