Public Protector 2012 Strategic Plan

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Justice and Correctional Services

23 April 2012
Chairperson: Mr L Landers (ANC)
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Meeting Summary

The Public Protector presented the Strategic Plan and Budget before the Portfolio Committee on Justice and Constitutional Development. The Committee was informed that the strategic vision was still Vision 2020 and that the mandate has been retained however there were some changes. Currently there was an unaudited figure of 26 440 complaints; 20 219 complaints were received under the year in review; 5609 complaints were carried over and16 509 complaints were finalised. There has been an increase in the number of complaints as well as their complexity. The PP’s disposal rate on small matters has increased. The disposal rate has also increased in complex matters where service delivery was involved but not where conduct failure was involved. The PP has strengthened its outreach, community and educational work and believed that it has reached 10 million citizens through its communication. Two offices in Mpumalanga and Gauteng have been re-located. . The core values have changed and have been reduced from ten to five. The core values were independence and impartiality, Ubuntu and human dignity, transparency, equality and fairness as well redress. The core principles were integrity, accountability and responsiveness. The PP has changed the values and strategic objectives. Originally the strategic objectives were accountability, accessibility and trust, prompt remedial action as well as promoting good governance in all state affairs, optimal performance, establishing an efficient organisation  and lastly it was to have optimal performance and a service oriented culture.  The strategic objective that has been changed was prompt remedial action which was now prompt justice including remedial action.

As part of the accessibility strategy the following social network pages would be launched Facebook, Twitter, MixIt You Tube and others.  The PP was also planning to launch an office in Limpopo. Alternative Dispute Resolution as a remedy would be utilised as it was faster and provided immediate justice, more importantly it accelerated the process where people came face to face and saw each other’s pain. Systemic and own initiative investigations would be increased. The business model was being reviewed and business processes were being streamlined. An engineer would be recruited to assist at the level of the case management system. A data analyst would also be brought in. The key budget drivers were staff which was mainly investigators. The PP preferred to move into a building that was either built or purchased as the lease was ending in 2014, this would be cheaper than renting. The PP had special requests for more investigators, the establishment of a fully fledged call centre, funding for an integrated communication and information technology system, new offices and the review of the remuneration of staff. The PP would also appreciate an opportunity to present quarterly to the Committee. The PP would also appreciate an opportunity to have the matter of the salary of the Deputy Public Protector’s fast tracked. During the 2012/2013 financial year there was an increase of 12% in the Medium Term Framework allocation this put the budget at R174 million. The 12% increase was over the next three financial years. The budget per programme was divided as follows: Strategic Direction and Executive Support = 14%; Cooperation = 47% and Corporate Services was at 39%.

The Committee inquired of the Public Protector whether its recommendations and findings were being implemented. The Committee asked why the PP preferred resolutions of cases where there was face to face contact as alternative mediation. A Committee Member asked if the Minister of Higher Education Mr Blade Ndzimande be charged with insulting the PP after the following comments “The Chapter 9 institutions were being used by the opposition forces and Polokwane grievers trying to run the country from the grave? Ms Thuli Madonsela was quick to investigate complaints against ministers but dragged her feet in other cases. I do not want to be seen and read in a negative way, I support the Public Protector and it was very important and there was glaring selectivity.” The Committee expressed appreciation for the use of staff with other skills by the Public Protector. The Public Protector was asked how many cases were older than a year and whether any progress had made regarding these cases and how long it was going to be before the funds would be distributed provincially in accordance with population density. The Committee did not have an idea on what the PP had in mind in terms of figures for purchasing or building of a new building. It was further asked whether there an electronic register of cases and also how long it took the PP to respond to cases. The Committee asked if the relationship with Parliament had improved since the establishment of the Organisation for Institutions Supporting Democracy.  The Committee wanted to know what the mandate of the PP was where the Special Investigations Unit was concerned and what was the relationship like between the two organisations. 

Meeting report

Presentation: Public Protector Strategic Plan and Budget

Advocate Thuli Madonsela, Public Protector of South Africa (PP) said that the strategic vision was still Vision 2020 which commenced three years ago. The mandate has been retained however there were some changes due to feedback received from stakeholders during stakeholder consultations. Currently the PP investigated 26 440 complaints, these were unaudited figures and the PP would come back to the Committee with audited figures in the Annual Report.  20 219 complaints were received under the year in review and 5609 complaints were carried over. 16 509 complaints were finalised, it should be noted that there was an increase in the number of complaints as well as their complexity. The PP’s disposal rate on small matters has increased. The disposal rate has also increased in complex matters where service delivery was involved but not where conduct failure was involved. The PP has strengthened its outreach, community and educational work. The PP believed that it has reached 10 million citizens through its communication, this was the set target. This was determined via two surveys that the organisation that it had raised. The PP in previous meetings had been told by Parliament to re-look the strategy behind the location of offices of the PP. This has been done and now two offices in Mpumalanga and Gauteng have been re-located. The PP has decided that its mobile offices would be in all nine provinces. The PP has also been engaging with Non-Government Organisations (NGO) to use some of their facilities to reach to communities. The PP was also looking at the post office as another opportunity to reach people; this was in the new strategic plan. The PP wanted to reduce the turnaround time, currently more than 50% of cases had a turnaround time of three months. The number of cases older than a year has been reduced. The performance management system has been revisited to ensure that it was in sync with the promise made to South Africa (SA).

The PP was aiming to be accessible to all persons and communities. The core values have changed and have been reduced from ten to five, this was to enable citizens to remember them and incorporate them in their day to day activities. The core values were independence and impartiality, Ubuntu and human dignity, transparency, equality and fairness as well redress. The core principles were integrity, accountability and responsiveness. The PP has changed the values and strategic objectives. Originally the strategic objectives were accountability, accessibility and trust, prompt remedial action as well as promoting good governance in all state affairs, optimal performance, establishing an efficient organisation  and lastly it was to have optimal performance and a service oriented culture.  The strategic objective that has been changed was prompt remedial action. The PP wanted a clear understanding that every case deserved prompt justice; promptness should apply even if one was not to get remedial action. Therefore the strategic objective was now prompt justice including remedial action. The strategies within the strategic objectives have been tweaked a little.  As part of the accessibility strategy the following social network pages would be launched Facebook, Twitter, MixIt You Tube and others.  The PP was also planning to launch an office in Limpopo. Alternative Dispute Resolution (ADR) as a remedy would be utilised as it was faster and provided immediate justice, more importantly it accelerated the process where people came face to face and saw each other’s pain. The PP was looking at incorporating peer review for cases. Systemic and own initiative investigations would be increased. The business model was being reviewed and business processes were being streamlined. An engineer would be recruited to assist at the level of the case management system. A data analyst would also be brought in. Investigators would be divided between lawyers and non-lawyers. The PP was now clear on what was wrong with its Case Management System (CMS) and it was being adequately assisted. A call centre would be of extreme use and currently there was only one staff member who answered calls. The performance management system was not in sync with strategic objectives. Last year an additional 24 investigators were recruited and this has made a huge difference, more were still needed.

The key budget drivers were staff which was mainly investigators. The PP preferred to move into a building that was either built or purchased as the lease was ending in 2014, this would be cheaper than renting. The PP had special requests for more investigators, the establishment of a fully fledged call centre, funding for an integrated communication and information technology system, new offices and the review of the remuneration of staff. The PP would also appreciate an opportunity to present quarterly to the Committee. The PP would also appreciate an opportunity to have the matter of the salary of the Deputy Public Protector’s (DPP) fast tracked.

Mr Themba Mthethwa, Chief Executive Officer (CEO) of the PP said that for the 2012/2013 financial year there was an increase of 12% in the Medium Term Framework allocation this put the budget at R174 million. The 12% increase was over the next three financial years. The budget per programme was divided as follows: Strategic Direction and Executive Support = 14%; Cooperation = 47% and Corporate Services was at 39%. The PP was looking at streamlining the amount it spent per province based on the number of people and the cases received. This would be addressed through the new strategic objectives.

Discussion

Ms D Smuts (ANC) asked what was the problem diagnosed for the CMS. Could the PP give an indication if it encountered difficulty in its recommendations being implemented? It was surprising that Government Communications and Information Systems (GCIS) was resisting the use of Thusong Centres by the PP. Could there be more light shed on why the PP preferred to resolutions of cases where there was face to face contact as alternative mediation where it really is similar to conciliation, was there a similar misunderstanding with other stakeholders on this issue? Should the Minister of Higher Education Mr Blade Ndzimande be charged with insulting the PP when he said the following “The Chapter 9 institutions were being used by the opposition forces and Polokwane grievers trying to run the country from the grave? Ms Thuli Madonsela was quick to investigate complaints against ministers but dragged her feet in other cases. I do not want to be seen and read in a negative way, I support the Public Protector and it was very important and there was glaring selectivity.” Should action be taken on this matter?

Professor G Ndabandaba (ANC) asked if social workers might be relevant

Ms L Adams (COPE) referred to the section on Achievements in the presentation and asked how many cases were older than a year and was any progress made regarding these cases? Would it not have been better to ensure that all of the PP’s offices were accessible to persons with disabilities? How long was it going to be before the funds would be distributed provincially in accordance with population density?

Ms Chaana-Majake (ANC) referred to page 21 of the presentation and asked why the issue of low staff moral had not been addressed. The Committee did not have an idea on what the PP had in mind in terms of figures for purchasing or building of a new building? Did the PP undertake vetting of staff? Was there an electronic register of cases? Could there be a comment on the structure of the PP? How long did the PP take to respond to cases and if there were cases where a response was only made after a year, how many were there? The DoJ&CD had said that it would introduce advice offices, in your opinion how could the PP benefit from these?

Mr S Swart (ACDP) asked if compliance by state departments has improved. Has the relationship with Parliament improved due to the establishment of the Office of Institutions Supporting Democracy (OISD)? Has the PP ever laid a charge against someone for insulting the Office of the Public Protector? Has the PP ever proposed an improvement of legislation such as the Protected Disclosures Act? What was the mandate of the PP in regards to the Special Investigations Unit, what was the relationship like between the two organisations? Was the ADR process working well, and were the number of cases per investigator decreasing?

The Chairperson asked if the PP was in a position to respond to the Richard Mdluli matter.

Adv Madonsela said that she would like to announce that there were to complainants who requested the Richard Mdluli matter to be investigated. The first complainant was Ms D Kholer-Barnard and the FW De Klerk Foundation. An assessment for determining jurisdiction was made and it was found that this matter did fall under the PP’s jurisdiction. The PP had decided not to proceed with a full investigation because during the preliminary investigation there was a meeting with the Inspector General of Intelligence (IGI) who indicated that she had not concluded her own investigation. It was agreed that the IGI would conclude her investigation first and then the PP would get a sense from her report on what she has covered and what the findings were. The PP in turn would share the information she would have. The PP in such an instance would ascertain whether such an investigation had covered all bases and whether the remedies would be the equivalent of what the PP would have recommended.

Ms Smuts followed up and asked if the PP would have insight of the IGI’s findings.

Adv Madonsela said yes.

The Chairperson asked if the Auditor General would be included as part of the team.

Adv Madonsela replied not at this stage because this was not a joint investigation.

The Chairperson said that the issue raised by Ms Smuts was shared by him and related to classification of information. The PP should not hesitate to call on Parliament should there be problems with access to information due to classification.

Adv Madonsela thanked the Chairperson for the support but added that she should not run into such problems because in terms of the law she could subpoena anyone within organs of state.

Ms Smuts said that it would be disappointing if the PP were to be denied information and currently nothing could be classified under the Constitution. 

Mr Swart said that the PP had made a submission on the Protection of State Information Bill to the effect that she would run into some difficulties when that Bill was law, this was something that the Committee could put on the backburner.

Adv Madonsela referred to Ms Smuts’ question on the CMS and said that the problem was that the quality of the system depended on who was responsible for installing it; currently everybody in the country was using SAP. The implementing partner had short changed the PP and it has recently been discovered that the installation had not taken into consideration the business plan of the PP. The system stored information but did not track cases. The system just needed an implementation partner. The PP knew that what it had now would work. The percentage of cases where recommendations were not implemented were not high. If a complainant was found to have been wronged then the question was what then? The approach would be to place the complainant in the position they would have been had the state not acted improperly. The PP had had a good relationship with GCIS and they had not refused access to the Thusong centres, GCIS was very helpful. Using the term ADR was just to combine conciliation and meditation; it was considered as a separate term. The PP did not have a formal mediation process like the Commission for Conciliation, Mediation and Arbitration (CCMA) it just facilitated for a dialogue between those wronged and the perpetrator. I was not aware of a case where there was a charge of contempt of the PP. The PP always preferred using soft power as opposed to hard power.

Adv Madonsela continued to say that she would not be writing a letter to the Minister of Higher Education asking for evidence to the effect that the PP was selective in her cases. However statements made by a Minister carry more weight than those made by a person in the street. I do not believe that a minister would willingly violate Section 181(3) of the Constitution. It was true that the minister’s wife did lodge a complaint with the PP in February 2010. The complaint was not ignored; the complaint came at a time when the South African Broadcasting Corporation (SABC) was already being investigated for systemic governance failure, appointment and procurement problems. Therefore a specific investigation then became a systemic investigation. There were sometimes delays in investigations which were at times complex. Sometimes investigators worked in groups and dealt with more than one case. The complaint was not ignored. The suggestion from Prof Ndabandaba was a good one and a social worker could qualify. There were 438 cases carried over from last year, there has been a decrease. The issue on people with disability was a concept that meant that reasonable arrangements that reasonably accommodated the needs of people with disabilities such as having Braille business cards and audio reports etc. The PP was still looking at the best model for the provincial distribution of funds and the current budget had already been tweaked to that effect, sometimes one found that a population may be small but distances were vast. The current Performance Management System was not in sync with the measures that the PP found to be ideal hence the review. There was a new system that had a balance score card which was partly electronic and partly manual.

Adv Madonsela rounded off on addressing questions by saying that the specs that the PP needed for a building had been indicated. There was a document that indicated the needs of the PP which included facilities for the mediation of cases. There was vetting of staff. There was an electronic case management system. The structure of the PP was included in the Strategic Plan. Within 24 hours of a matter being reported there was a letter of acknowledgment but the service promise was five days. I am not aware of someone who has not received a letter of acknowledgment within a one year period.    The PP could always piggy back on other organisations including the DoJ&CD as long as there was a separation between the PP and the organisations it oversaw. There was better implementation of the PP’s recommendations and findings. Whistle blowers could be incentivised by giving a portion of the money recovered if there was a successful prosecution. In terms of legislation that could be improved there were two legislative mandates that the PP would be happy with if they could be migrated elsewhere. These were the Promotion of Access to Information Act (PAIA) mandate and the Protection of Housing Measures Act. This was such an important mandate and the PP as an ombudsmen had its hands full. The PP had bilateral agreements with institutions such as the SIU, Directorate for Priority Crimes and Investigations (DPCI) and National Prosecuting Authority (NPA). Investigations were taking longer to conclude with the growing complexity of cases. The PP would have to have better skilled investigators and also to increase the numbers. The skills part was currently being handled through training which included simulation.

Mr Mthethwa added that the PP had a nine year lease solicited from the private sector. Over this period close to R30 million had been paid. With this amount a new building could be procured.

The Chairperson said that this was motivation enough and there would be a saving of money.

The Chairperson thanked the PP and adjourned the meeting.

Mr J Sibanyoni (ANC) asked about the impact caused by the closing down of the PP’s offices in certain areas.

Mr Mthethwa said that the PP was not leaving altogether there would be mobile clinics held twice or three times a week in those areas where the PP had closed its offices.

Meeting Adjourned.  

 

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