Commission on Gender Equality; Human Rights Commission, Office of the Public Protector: Strategic Objectives & Budget 2006/07

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Justice and Correctional Services

16 March 2006
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Meeting Summary

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Meeting report

JUSTICE AND CONSTITUTIONAL AFFAIRS PORTFOLIO COMMITTEE
17 March 2006
COMMISSION ON GENDER EQUALITY; HUMAN RIGHTS COMMISSION, OFFICE OF THE PUBLIC PROTECTOR: STRATEGIC OBJECTIVES & BUDGET 2006/07

Chairperson:
Ms F Chohan-Khota (ANC) (during CGE presentation)
Acting Chairperson: Adv C Johnson (ANC) (during SAHRC presentation)
Acting Chairperson: Mr J Sibanyoni (ANC) (during OPP presentation)

Documents handed out:
Commission on Gender Equality (CGE) Strategy Report 2005/06:
CGE: Chairperson’s Overview to Parliament
CGE Annual Report 2004/05 [available at www.cge.org.za]
CGE Budget Report
CGE Annexure to the Budget Report
CGE Draft Strategic Plan 2006/07
CGE presentation on budget
South African Human Rights Commission (SAHRC) Annual Report 2004/05 [available shortly at www.sahrc.org.za]
SAHRC: Report on Monitoring Equality Courts in Gauteng Province
SAHRC: Opening remarks of Chairperson
SAHRC: Budget presentation
Office of the Public Protector (OPP) Report No. 33
Public Protector Annual Report 2004/05
Review of Organisation and Post Establishment of Office of Public Protector: Part 1, 2 & 3
Public Protector of the RSA Presentation by Adv. M. L. Mushwana
Office of Public Protector presentation

SUMMARY
The Commission on Gender Equality outlined its growth over the past few years and challenges faced, especially the lack of consultation with the Commission by gender national machinery. The Commission’s programmes, strategic objectives, corporate functions and budget for 2005/6 were outlined. The CFO was asked to comment on matters raised in the detailed report of the Auditor-General, relating to supply chain management, a fraud prevention plan, filling of vacancies and the keeping of human resource files. Discussions took place on the appointment of commissioners and the Chapter Nine Institutions review. Questions were raised on the broad gender issues raised in the Zuma rape trial, the Commission’s role in media advertising standards, and its role on gender sensitivity education at Teacher Training and learner levels.

The South African Human Rights Commission (SAHRC) had sent full copies of the reports to the Committee so that only specific areas of the Powerpoint presentation were dealt with during the meeting. SAHRC had appointed Adv T Thipanyane as CEO, and had developed performance agreements with all staff and Commissions. A mid-year review had resulted in enhanced synergy between commissioners, staff and offices. SAHRC was participating in the Chapter Nine Institutions review. Areas of focus included the discrepancy in standards of education, freedom of expression and the rights of religious communities, exclusionary policies in voluntary associations, Older Persons, rural communities, the Victim’s Charter and international and training programmes, and a review of the Equality Courts. Baseline allocations for 2006/07 amounted to R49.2 million and projected expenditure would account for this allocation. Questions were raised on the appointment of additional Commissioners. Further details were given on the poor functioning of the Equality Courts. In answer to an enquiry the major challenges were identified as increasing awareness of human rights, and attempting to ensure that government delivered on its obligations. Questions on the administrative systems were answered briefly by the CFO, who undertook to provide further written reports. SAHRC confirmed that it had compiled a draft report on disparities in the educational systems. It clarified its areas of focus on issues highlighted by the Zuma rape trial. In answer to another query, SAHRC undertook to provide details of complaints and their statistical breakdown to the Committee.

The Office of the Public Protector (OPP) had sent information to the Committee in advance, and did not give a full Powerpoint presentation. It was represented in all nine provinces and had spent 96% of its previous budget allocation. The current allocation was R55 million. The Office of the Public Protector was presently focusing on effective and efficient investigations, outreach programmes and improved administrative support. For the fourth year it had received an unqualified audit report. It had redefined its investigative processes, and put more emphasis on identifying systemic deficiencies, the root causes of complaint and report writing. The number of cases had increased, as also the number of complex or high profile cases. Its challenges included the disparity in the provision of municipal services, the lack of cooperation amongst municipalities, a greater workload resulting from the outreach programme, and limited funding and resources for the new regional offices. It was committed to the Civil Advocacy Programme and a joint investigation on maintenance matters. Questions were raised on the “Oilgate” findings and allegations of bias. The Office of the Public Protector confirmed that although there was some backlog, it attempted to finalise all cases within a maximum time frame of two years. Questions were raised and answered on the accounting system applied, and the functioning of the internal audit committee.

MINUTES
Introduction by Chairperson

The Chair stated that, as she was suffering from a severe bout of flu, Ms Johnson (ANC) would chair the meeting after the first input from the Commission on Gender Equality.

Commission on Gender Equality (CGE) submission
Ms J Piliso-Serote (Chairperson, CGE) stated that it was s real honour for CGE to address the Committee. She provided an overview of the growth of the organisation and the challenges facing the organisation, especially the lack of consultation with CGE by gender national machinery. She stated that the Chief Executive Officer (CEO), Ms C Majake, would conduct the actual presentation

Ms Majake proceeded to outlined the CGE’s:
- vision and mission;
- strategic objectives for the year under review;
- programmes aimed at fulfilling its mandate;
- corporate activities;
- financial and human resources;
- budget for 2006/7;
- donor funding for 2005/6;
- research conducted in 2005/6;
- public education and information programmes;
- legal service complaints received in 2005/6;
- challenges faced;
- collaborative work conducted with government departments and other institutions;
- international work;
- programme and operations impact; and
- its achievements in 2005/6.

Discussion
The Chairperson asked for further details of the MTEF allocation for 2006/07. Mr P Scholtz (Chief Financial Officer (CFO, CGE) reported that the allocation for the current year was R37.7 million, rising to R41 million in 2008/09.

The Chairperson asked for details on the listed shortfall of R11.3 million.

The CFO clarified that this was not an actual overspend but was rather a shortfall on the requested budget.

The Chairperson asked the CFO to comment on some of the challenges and matters arising from the previous audit reports. The CFO commented that although the actual audit report was unqualified, the Auditor-General had raised some issues in his long form of report. The question of supply chain management posed a challenge. In a larger organisation it was possible to implement more systems of control, but in a small organisation there were not sufficient dedicated staff, so that a larger part of each staff member’s day was spent in supply management, and in compiling the vast number of reports required by Treasury.

The fraud prevention plan had been compiled late, although it was now finished and was being implemented. This document laid down minimum standards for use of finances and resources. It had been reported the previous year that there were some human resource problems. In the current year the vacancies had been filled. At least one asset count was being conducted per year, and check and other controls had been set in place. Personnel files had been properly compiled and updated, with the exception of information relating to increments, which still needed to come from the Department of Justice (DOJ). With regard to the late submission of the financial statements, the CFO reported that when his predecessor resigned there was a delay in appointing his replacement. Pending that replacement there had been no person to finalise the financial statements. When Mr Scholtz had been appointed, he had made it a priority task to finalise the statements, and furthermore to set in place systems that in future would ensure that the statements could be finalised even in the absence of the CFO. With regard to compliance issues, there had to be adjustments because of the late submission of the financial statements. There had been no prior approval of the rollover of funds, but this approval now had been received. Accruals mentioned in the report related to amounts that were never invoiced by the Department of Public Works, so the amounts had never been paid. The Department and the CGE had now reached agreement on the handling of the issue and accrued amounts would be available for programmes and plans within the organisation.

The Chairperson requested clarification on the percentage distribution of funding shown in the slides. The CFO clarified that the 17% of spending for “Chair” in fact referred to amounts budgeted for the Chairperson and Commissioners, and included travelling costs, office space and other amounts. The amount paid to the Commissioners by way of remuneration had remained the same so where previous budgets were larger, the percentage was proportionally smaller. The actual amounts used for remuneration, excluding office accommodation and travelling, had been 14%. The remaining amounts appeared under the National Office allocations. About 65% of budget was currently allocated to the National Office, but this amount also included some amounts used, for instance, in the Cape Town legal office, but which were budgeted under National.

Ms S Camerer (DA) noted that all Commissioners were due to retire almost simultaneously. Appointment of new Commissioners by an Ad Hoc Committee was likely to be a lengthy process. She queried why the term of office was limited to one year. The Chairperson indicated that the CEO of CGE could not deal with that question but that she had spoken with the Speaker about the terms of office. The Department was aware of the Chapter Nine Reviews and proposed the shorter appointments, to September, pending the outcome of the review, to avoid entering into expensive contracts that might prove unworkable. Ultimately, Parliament would have to make the recommendation as to the terms of office.

Ms Camerer questioned whether the CGE had addressed the broader gender issues arising from the Zuma rape trial, in particular the events outside the court.

Ms S Said (Head: Legal Services, CGE) replied that the CGE had raised their concerns with the Department of Justice. At first CGE were barred from attending the proceedings in camera, seemingly through lack of understanding of CGE’s functions and powers. One of the legal officers was monitoring the trial. CGE had debated the last few days’ events and questions to be addressed included the media coverage of gender-based violence, the public’s reaction, evidenced by “hate speech”. CGE could intervene as amicus to the rights of the accused, victim or community. In this matter, and in general, CGE wished to discuss all issues with other human rights institutions and formulate a collaborative approach.

Adv C Johnson (ANC) noted that the CGE reviewed media advertising. She queried whether advertisements that did not promote gender equality were taken off air, and how many advertisements were challenged. She asked how powerful a voice the CGE had with the Advertising Standards Authority (ASASA). The Chairperson added that she was horrified that explicit advertisements were shown on daytime television. She enquired whether the CGE took a proactive role in developing standards of advertising with ASASA.

Ms Said (CGE) confirmed that CGE had provided input into the current ASASA code. Two Commissioners dealt with gender stereotypes. However, the self-regulating bodies themselves were not yet properly representative, and CGE itself had been accused of being too conservative with regard to female posing in advertisements. CGE had offered to do gender training and had called for certain sections of the Code, which in themselves gave rise to lack of representivity – for instance portions stating that only Senior Counsel could deal with issues, which tended to exclude black and female representations. CGE had called for ASASA, the Press Ombudsman and Film and Publications Board to hold a workshop to deal collaboratively with various issues.

Dr T Maitse (Commissioner, CGE) added that regrettably even when advertising had been withdrawn, it had already made an impact. CGE would prefer to have all advertisements shown to CGE prior to being flighted and hoped to amplify the Code accordingly.

The Chairperson suggested that perhaps women consumers should change their mindset on the power they had, as consumers, not to support companies that showed demeaning advertisements. The Chairperson also stated that the National Directorate of Prosecutions had advised that child rape, and child rape by other children, was increasing, as was other gender-based violence. She believed there was a need to educate children in schools about gender relations.

Dr T Maitse (CGE) believed that many of the problems arose from the easy access children had to pornography.

Ms G Fester (Commissioner, CGE) stated that there needed to be a comprehensive strategy on child rape. On the education issue, CGE had already met with the Minister for Education in 2004 but the recommendations had still not been implemented. The Gender Equity Task Team had produced a comprehensive report in 1996, together with a five-year implementation plan, but nothing had been done to progress those plans for training, life skills curricula, and literature. The curriculum for teacher training itself did not address human rights and gender sensitivity training. The school textbooks were severely lacking. CGE was active in attempting to address these issues.

The Chairperson stated that she would write to the Department and Minister of Education to urge them to include gender training in school programmes.

Presentation by the South African Human Rights Commission (SAHRC)
Mr J Kollapen (Chairperson, SAHRC) supplemented the documents forwarded earlier to the Committee with a brief report-back of the activities of the SAHRC. He announced that SAHRC had recently decided to appoint Adv T Thipanyane as new Chief Executive Officer. SAHRC had also developed and implemented new performance agreements to enable the commissioners to hold each other accountable and provide a base to set the targets in alignment with the strategic plan. The Commissioners had also requested external experts to give input into areas of work that they believed should form the focus of SAHRC’s activities.

SAHRC was aware of the pending review of Chapter Nine Institutions. It had participated in a forum of other Chapter Nine Institutions to foster closer relationships to deal with strategies and challenges.

One of SAHRC’s focus areas was the discrepancy in standards of education between urban, rural and former Model C schools. It had attended a public inquiry into the right to basic education. It had also hosted a seminar on freedom of expression and the rights of religious communities. Following a public inquiry into the practice of exclusionary policies for voluntary associations SAHRC had launched a report that provided guidance to ensure that such associations did not practice unfair exclusion. SAHRC had continued to work and engage with rural communities. It was continuing work with older persons and the Forum for Older Persons ensured co ordination of activities. A workshop would be held in the current month to assess the work of the Victim’s Charter.

SAHRC would open a new provincial office in Mmambatho shortly; staff had already started work in the area. This would ensure a presence in each province.

SAHRC had a high international profile and participated in international training and skills programmes. It enjoyed good relationships with the UN structures. It had positive working relationships with the Departments of Justice, Foreign Affairs and Home Affairs.

SAHRC had previously raised concerns about the number of Commissioners. There was a need to increase the complement in line with the mandate and scope of the SAHRC. However, SAHRC was doing its best to fulfil its mandate fully and was confident that it was making a positive impact on the lives of South Africans.

Adv T Thipanyane (Acting Chief Executive Officer: SAHRC) referred briefly to some of the points raised in the earlier documentation forwarded to the Committee. He tabled the output and service delivery indicators for 2004/05 for strategic management, finance and administration, commissioners, media and communication, legal services, research and education and training. He reported that the awareness of the SAHRC was growing, that it had opened two new offices, embarked on a Civil Society Advocacy Programme, made 413 educational interventions and improved relationships with provincial and local governments, and improved its focus in rural areas. There had been a mid-year restructuring aiming for streamlining, which resulted in better working relationships and delivery between the provincial officer, the national secretariat and its operations, and the commissioners.

A summary was presented of the SAHRC monitoring programme, inquiries and site-visits, and reports. Various materials had been produced in eleven languages. Adv Thipanyane asked that the Portfolio Committee raise with Parliament the slow implementation of the various reports. Strategic interventions had included a roundtable on the property clause, an indaba on Equality, a conference focusing on a ten-year review of Human Rights, and a meeting and workshop with traditional leaders. The collaborative work efforts were tabled and summarised, which included work with the Department of Justice on equality courts, and with the Department of Education on curriculum and monitoring of human rights violations in schools. He reported that internationally SAHRC linked to resources in twelve countries, and was particularly proactive in the African Research Network on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights, and the Southern African Development Community (SADC).

Adv Thipanyane summarised the strategic planning for the new MTEF cycle. The organisational review and development aimed to build a model of excellence. The baseline allocations for 2006/07 amounted to R49.2 million, rising to R58.1 million in 2008/09. Projected expenditure was R49.2 million. New options for the MTEF cycle were taking the Bill of Rights to rural communities, more effective monitoring and assessment of observance of human rights, establishment of an e-learning unit, and implementation of the promotional aspects of the Equality Act. There were four funded projects that would continue during the year.

The Acting Chairperson asked whether funding had been allocated to the four “options”.

Adv Thipanyane confirmed that the baseline levels had been increased, and all options would be implemented from April.

The Acting Chairperson enquired why spending had decreased for the commissioners.

Mr Kollapen explained that there were originally eight full time and three part-time commissioners. Currently there were only five full-time and one part-time commissioners, which had resulted in the decrease.

The Acting Chairperson asked for a summary of the findings in relation to the Equality Courts. Mr Kollapen replied that the Equality Act had been one of the most important pieces of legislation, and SAHRC had therefore undertaken training of presiding officers and clerks. A review of the working of the Courts had shown that the numbers of cases taken to the Courts were low, but in addition the Courts were clearly not ready to deal adequately with matters presented. Some of the trained staff had moved on, and some presiding officers did not have adequate knowledge to deal with the cases presented, and tended to sideline them. The location of the Courts also presented problems. In effect, the Courts were not functioning properly. This matter had been taken up with the Department of Justice.

Ms F Chohan-Khota (ANC) expressed her disquiet on the excuses given by Court officials. She urged that the Portfolio Committee and the Department of Justice should take a far more robust stance, and use the mechanisms provided by the Magistrates Commission. She suggested that, if necessary, far more specific reports, reporting on individuals who were hindering the system, should be made and a solution found.

The Acting Chairperson asked what were the major challenges facing SAHRC in the tenth year of democracy.

Mr Kollapen replied that the State of the Nation address had suggested that South Africa should redefine the kind of nation it aspired to be. SAHRC believed that there was a danger of human rights not be applied universally. The largest challenge lay in making people aware of, and passionate about, human rights. This would happen when the people and the government enjoyed the best possible relationship. Although institutions like SAHRC could not provide services, the Government could and should do so, particularly in pressing issues such as socio-economic rights, high levels of crime and violence and HIV and Aids.

Adv T Thipanyane added that 60% of resources were being focused on rural communities. Previously they had been neglected because of the focus on national and provincial government, rather than at the local level, and government needed to address the concerns of this marginalised community.

Ms Z Majodina (Deputy Chair, SAHRC) stated that SAHRC played an important role in education, but continued to be concerned about the disparity in standards. SAHRC had succeeded in conveying its message to the more educated sector, but the most vulnerable were those who were unable to enter into dialogue and articulate their needs. SAHRC’s approach to human rights education would change to try to meet these challenges.

Ms J Cohen (Commissioner, SAHRC) confirmed that SAHRC had been involved in the public hearing that stressed that education should be available, accessible, adaptable and relevant. SAHRC would be examining the disparity between the resources addressed to education, and the poor quality produced, and on issues such as language, teaching in the mother-tongue, levels of violence and abuse at schools, and teachers.

Ms Chohan-Khota asked whether, during the past year, SAHRC had addressed administrative systems to ensure greater productivity.

Ms A Ngwenya (Chief Financial Officer, SAHRC) replied that these issues were outlined in the full report. In brief, the asset register had been updated, with the assistance of auditors. Banking systems had been improved. New processes had been implemented to ensure that all creditors were listed. Payroll weaknesses had been addressed. The UIF system had been resolved. The fringe benefit budget was monitored on a monthly basis, and comparisons were made monthly between budget and actual expenditure. The systems of documentation had been improved, and internal audit functions had been outsourced. A new time plan guided SAHRC in meeting all obligations so that the financial statements would be submitted in time. She undertook to provide a summary to the Committee.

Ms Camerer asked how many commissioners had been appointed.

Mr Kollapen replied that there could be a maximum of eleven, comprising eight full-time and three part-time. That had been the complement when SAHRC was established. Currently SAHRC was operating at the legal minimum of five full-time and three part-time. Mr Kollapen was not aware whether the remaining vacancies would be filled at present, pending the Chapter Nine Institutions review, although ideally SAHRC would like to see other appointment, to broaden the commissioners’ fields of expertise.

Ms Camerer requested SAHRC’s recommendations on the disparity in education.

Mr Kollapen replied that SAHRC had compiled a report, but this was presently in draft form. Ideally all should receive excellent education, but the reality was that there were severe shortcomings, particularly in numeracy skills. Current educational models did not take into account the needs and realities in rural areas, where children were required to undertake duties to support the family. Teacher training support was a major issue and it had been found that many teachers in rural areas sent their own children to urban schools.

Ms Camerer requested whether SAHRC was involved in protection of women’s’ rights, particularly in relation to the Zuma rape trial.

Mr K Govender (Commissioner) replied that SAHRC was monitoring the fairness of the legal process, in conjunction with other bodies. The broad issues related to treatment of women complainants but the narrow issues related to the damage caused to the administration of justice; for instance did the burning of pictures of witnesses serve to discredit their evidence?

Mr L Joubert (IFP) asked for further details of the Chapter Nine Institutions Forum, and whether it would be institutionalised.

Mr Kollapen (SAHRC) reported that it was presently a voluntary structure and those involved wished to strategise at a political level, to make common representations, although each institution would retain its independence to disassociate in certain areas. The CEOs of the various bodies involved also cooperated with each other at an operational level.

Mr M Malahlela (ANC) asked whether SAHRC became involved in issues such as poor-quality housing.

Mr Kollapen confirmed that SAHRC would visit communities to examine the state of delivery of houses, clinics, and schools, to see if systems were working effectively. SAHRC did so not only in the context of human rights, and following complaints, but also to study whether socio-economic rights were being properly addressed.

Ms Chohan-Khota again raised her concerns that systems and protocols had not yet been institutionalised to deliver maximum efficiency. Newer institutions had not inherited bureaucratic systems and were therefore ideally placed to lead the way in administrative excellence.

Mr Kollapen assured the Committee that its mid-year review had resulted in excellent cooperation and synergy between the commissioners, CEO and staff, and offices. The CEO reported to the Commissioners each week on the activities in the office, and staff and commissioners were in the process of developing performance agreements and implementing corporate governance standards.

Adv Thipanyane confirmed that there were some challenges in terms of the Public Finance Management Act (PFMA). There had been a gap between the Act and the Regulations on the question of executive authority. SAHRC had written to the Director General of Justice to address a number of issues in implementation of the Act but had not yet managed to have a meeting.

Ms Chohan-Khota asked how many complaints had been finalised, and whether SAHRC was coping with the increase. The Acting CEO undertook to forward a full report giving the numbers, and detailing the breakdown of complainants by race, gender and economic sector. He reported that an amount of R1 million had been allocated by Treasury for the establishment of a new information management system, which would address the speed with which complaints were handled, and the manner of reporting.

In summary, the Acting Chairperson requested that SAHRC provide: a full report on finalisation of complaints; a report from the Chief Financial Officer on the systems; and further information on the Equality Courts; a report-back on the round-table discussion with the Departments on the Victim’s Charter.

Presentation by the Office of the Public Protector (OPP)
Acting Chairperson: Mr J Sibanyoni (ANC)

Adv M Mushwana (Public Protector) introduced Adv M Shai (Deputy Public Protector) and members of the presenting team. He reported that OPP had now established is last regional office, and that during the last year it had experienced a large growth in the number of high-profile cases, impacting upon the budget, and was involved in high-profile litigation. Its outreach programme had been particularly effective.

Mr A Rampersadh (Chief Administration Officer, OPP) gave a very brief summary of the documentation and figures previously provided to the Portfolio Committee. He reported that the OPP was now represented in all nine provinces, with the national office in Pretoria. The budget overview for the five-year period up to end 2005 was tabled, showing a steady increase. An amount of R3.2 million for 2003/04 had been deferred to 2004/05, and OPP had spent 96% of its allocated budget.

During the year OPP had focused on three main strategies: effective and efficient investigations, the outreach programme and improved administration support. Five systematic investigations had been effected and a report on the Protected Disclosures Act submitted to the South African Law Commission to consider a review of the Act. Five own initiative investigations were ongoing. Strategies had been devised to improve investigative skills, to reduce backlog and to document all phases of the investigative cycle. In the outreach programme, 43 clinics had been established, Treasury had approved additional funding for two regional offices, and enhanced public awareness campaigns had resulted in a 29% increase in complaints. Improved administration support had included implementation of a new performance management system, additional policies and procedures, the launch of a website, new appointments to ease non-core functions on investigative staff, and training.

OPP had received its fourth successive unqualified report from the auditors. The unauthorised expenditure for the 1999/2000 year had been approved by Parliament. Some cases had been carried forward as OPP had redefined its investigation processes and put more emphasis on identifying systemic deficiencies, root causes of complaint and report writing. The number of high profile and complex cases had increased, staff had to be trained on redefined processes and more time was spent attending training. The budget allocation for 2005/06 was R55.1 million, of which 73% was allocated to staff funding. Strategic objectives for 2005/06 included investigations and reporting, including the development of guidelines and procedures and a framework to cost investigations. Corporate services included better management of human resources, enhanced overall administrative support and an improved financial management and supply chain management. A fully-fledged audit committee complied with Section 77 of the PFMA and took ownership of risk management. External and internal communication strategies were developed, including international relations, and new outreach programmes implemented. Improved information technology had allowed for a new case management database, an audit of existing information systems and a disaster recovery plan. 14 103 cases were brought forward, 13 780 new cases received and 13 569 cases finalised. Challenges for the new year included the disparity in the provision of municipal services, lack of co-operation from some municipalities, a greater workload resulting from the outreach programme, large travelling distance, and limited funding and resources for the new regional offices. The OPP was committed to a civil advocacy programme, in conjunction with SAHRC and CGE and a joint investigation with CGE on maintenance matters.

Discussion
Mr M Malahlela (ANC) asked whether the recent accusations of bias against OPP, particularly in “Oilgate” had adversely affected OPP.

Adv Mushwana (Public Protector, OPP) replied that OPP’s findings in all matters, including “Oilgate” was based upon the evidence and the facts, and their cases were open to constructive criticism. OPP was satisfied that it had discharged its duty properly and fully. Those alleging bias had not raised specific instances backing up their criticism. OPP welcomed litigation as it served to help define the role and mandate of the Public Protector, and thus to improve its activities. He pointed out that those making complaints did not specify which portion of “society” they purported to represent. A tiny proportion of complaints received huge publicity because of the political implications, and it was only to be expected that the rulings would not satisfy all parties. Judgements in all cases were based on individual facts not findings, and never upon political pressure.

Ms Camerer asked whether the increase in the number of cases meant an increased backlog. She enquired how old the cases were that had been carried forward, and whether they were of a complex nature. She enquired whether the staff complement could deal properly with the cases.

Adv Mushwana (OPP) replied that the office had experienced problems in case management but was busy with a solution. The statistics might not be entirely correct as there had been problems with the reliability of data. However, the upsurge in cases had resulted from the outreach programme, and each one of the 43 visits undertaken had resulted in a number of new complaints. OPP insisted that there should be a maximum two-year period for finalisation, and had implemented a management system to alert staff to older cases and ensure that they were dealt with expeditiously. A quarterly review system checked all cases. The cases carried forward were partially due to a large number of complex matters and high profile work, which did require more formal reporting. Successes were judged not only by the number of cases completed, but by identification also of the causes of the complaint, and the responses of the OPP.

Ms Camerer pointed out that there was no indication of staff representivity.

Ms P Mogaladi (Chief Investigator) reported that the national breakdown was 34% African male, 41% African female, 5% white male, 10% white female, 2% coloured male, 3% coloured female, 2% Indian male, 3% Indian female.

Ms Chohan-Khota requested explanation on “re-opened cases”, and further details on the file management system, in particular whether it was possible to assess the turnaround time of cases.

Adv M Mushwana replied that the turnaround differed widely according to the cases. File management systems did show the amounts of documentation received and the complexity. Cases were occasionally reopened if new information came to light or further documentation was produced. In all cases, OPP attempted to keep to its two-year finalisation limit.

Ms Chohan-Khota asked whether the internal audit committee was fully functional.

Mr A Rampersadh (OPP) reported that all internal audits had been outsourced, with effect from April 2005. A contract had been signed with new auditors for the following three years. He confirmed that the committee was fully functional.

Ms Chohan-Khota asked why OPP was following an accrual accounting system, whereas the Auditor General apparently preferred other systems. She also asked for further details on the percentage spending reflected in the graphs.

Ms P Malaku (Chief Financial Officer, OPP) reported that, previously, national departments had been operating on a system of accounting when payment was made. All Departments were now switching over to GAAP and so OPP was in fact ahead of them in this regard. In regard to spending, she explained that a new programme was implemented in 2004/05, which spent R2.2 million (69%) of the allocation for that programme. This would increase in the following years.

The meeting adjourned.


 

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