Budget 2015: Public Protector gets R60m extra

2015-02-26 09:43

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The office of the Public Protector was saved from insolvency with a R60-million lifeline in the budget.

Finance Minister Nhlanhla Nene announced in his budget presentation yesterday that the protector would receive that amount over three years, Beeld reported.

In 2013-2014 the protector was allocated about R199 million, in 2014-2015 R217.6 million, and in the coming year it would rise to R246 million.

Public Protector Thuli Madonsela said she was relieved and grateful, but it was a drop in the ocean.

Last year she told Parliament that her office was “technically insolvent” because of the growth of the organisation, and its workload over the past five years.

Her staff of 314 had to handle 40 000 cases last year.

Her spokesperson Oupa Segalwe said Madonsela was thankful that her pleas did not fall on deaf ears and though little, it would definitely bring relief.

The protector’s office would still have to make dramatic cutbacks.

Meanwhile, the office of the chief justice will receive its own budget for the first time this year as part of moves to protect the independence of the judiciary, Beeld reported.

Nene allocated R5.2 billion for the medium term.

This meant the office of the chief justice would pay the salaries of judges in high courts, instead of the justice department.

University of Cape Town constitutional expert Christopher Oxtoby said the chief justice having control over his budget helped prevent other organs of state influencing the courts by withholding money.

Chief Justice Mogoeng Mogoeng’s spokesperson Nathi Ncube said all functions “relating to high courts would be transferred to us”.

The director-general would be known as the secretary-general and would still report to the justice minister.

Beeld said this could create conflict between Mogoeng and the minister because Mogoeng had already spoken out about the minister’s official working out of his offices.

Nene said R492 million would also be prioritised to improve access to justice.

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