Public Protector ‘could do with more expanded powers’

2015-09-22 15:12
Kevin Malunga. Picture: Muntu Vilakazi/City Press

Kevin Malunga. Picture: Muntu Vilakazi/City Press

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Expanding the mandate of the Public Protector to also prosecute corruption seems to be on the institution’s wishing list. 

Deputy Public Protector, advocate Kevin Malunga, said last night during a panel discussion on corruption in Cape Town that the institution “would not mind having broader powers”. 

His remarks came amid a court case under way in the Supreme Court of Appeal on the powers of the Public Protector in the case against SABC operational head Hlaudi Motsoaneng. 

The Centre for Conflict Studies hosted the discussion. 

Malunga was answering a question from director of the Institute for Accountability, Advocate Paul Hoffman. 

Hoffman wanted to know if the mandate of the Public Protector should be expanded or if another constitutional institution, an Integrity Commission, should be established to help fight corruption. 

Malunga said he didn’t think another anticorruption agency was needed, but that existing institutions such as the Special Investigative Unit and the National Prosecuting Authority should carry out their mandate effectively. 

Malunga referred to Uganda, which had an Inspector General for the government that – unlike South Africa’s Public Protector – could also prosecute. 

“It would help if we can prosecute because there sometimes is a gap between what we find and what actually happens after is not up to us.” 

Malunga also cautioned that people should be careful what they wish for. 

“We should not change things here and there and then end up with a multiplicity of useless institutions.” 

Professor Steven Friedman, a political analyst and the other panellist, also cautioned against legislative amendments made on a whim. 

“Corruption is about power and power relations so the question should rather be how we are going to address these power relations.” 

According to him, Public Protector Advocate Thuli Madonsela, was the first Public Protector who realised that the work she did was “fundamentally political”. 

“She has realised that it isn’t a technical problem, but a political problem, and what she must do is to build a social coalition with the public so that they will support what she does. That is what you do in a democracy when you have to address a power relationship, and this is how we will make progress.” 

Friedman warned that the power of the public in a democracy was a lot stronger than the stories of despair regarding corruption that were being told. 

He also warned that the fight against corruption would not be won as long as it was being driven by only the middle class. The real victims of corruption – the poor – had to be part of the struggle. 

South Africa loses on average R30 billion to corruption each year.

Read more on:    public protector  |  kevin malunga  |  corruption

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