South Africa: A Few Constitutional (And Other) Lessons for the Public Protector


The fixation on a legal mess titillatingly styled as 'the president vs public protector' fudges the facts. It's time to cut through the BS. The public protector is meant to protect us from abuses of government, be that politicians or civil servants.

What can the public protector do?

A lot, really. But all of it centres around action, or lack of action, in the public domain, or state affairs, involving public monies, public officials and public administration.

Or as Section 182(1) of the Constitution says: "The public protector has the power, as regulated by national legislation, to investigate any conduct in state affairs, or the public administration in any sphere of government, that is alleged or suspected to be improper or to result in any impropriety or prejudice... "

And that could be a pensioner, or group of pensioners, being denied a pension. Or grants being refused for spurious non-reasons by a power-hungry, bribe-grabbing public servant. Or the victimisation by civil servants of a colleague, who spoke out against wrongdoing in a government department or entity. Or the failure of local government to provide dignified ablution facilities, or access to decent health care. None of these examples are thumbsucks; all...

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