Chief justice's office has R89m budget shortfall

2014-07-08 13:49
(Dan Calderwood, News24)

(Dan Calderwood, News24)

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Cape Town - The fledgling office of the chief justice faces a budget shortfall of R89.5m over the next two financial years, MPs heard on Tuesday.

Mmeme Sejosengwe, the secretary general of the structure, told Parliament's portfolio committee on justice that this affected a range of priorities, from monitoring performance of the courts to capacitating the offices of the judge presidents and the chief justice.

Developing a monitoring system to oversee court performance would require an additional R15m.

There was a funding gap of R20m for paying staff as more functions are transferred from the justice department to the office of the chief justice and R15m in operations costs resulting from the same shift.

It also lacks R15m for judicial education.

Sejosengwe said the bleak budgetary outlook meant the migration of functions to the office, which was promulgated as a national department in 2010, would not happen with "a big bang" but rather in phases.

"Resources are not abundant. We can't take over all at once," she added.

It is not the first time that the office finds itself short of funds and looking to National Treasury for help. It has a shortfall of R66m for this financial year.

However, Sejosengwe said the finance ministry's stance was that funding would increase gradually as the office of the chief justice put in place systems to show how it would implement plans and manage accounts for money spent.

"Technically, they are right," she told Sapa.

There has been concern that the lack of funding will defeat the objectives behind the establishment of the chief justice's office and undermine its independence by keeping it reliant on the cash-strapped justice department.

It was set up to support the chief justice in his legislatively confirmed role as head of the judiciary and assume responsibility for the administration of courts and the development of judicial policy.

Read more on:    cape town  |  government spending  |  parliament 2014

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