KwaZulu-Natal Premier Dr Zweli Mkhize has described the signing of the Protocol Agreement between the Public Protector South Africa and the KwaZulu-Natal Provincial Executive Council as a significant development in the fight against fraud, corruption and maladministration in KwaZulu-Natal Province. He was speaking after the signing during the sitting of Cabinet in Pietermaritzburg today.
“Ours is a democratic government and we are public representatives elected through a democratic process and we serve at the will of the people. We signed a social contract with the people of this country and therefore any misconduct, ill-discipline and the lack of integrity in the public service amounts to the breach of this social contract.”
“We have committed ourselves as cabinet to ensuring that all government departments work with the office of the Public Protector on a continuous basis to deal with citizens’ complaints which include service delivery, corruption, maladminsitration and other issues. As the provincial government we recognise that the Office of the Public Protector represents the people of South Africa. Therefore, we believe that linking the citizen’s voice with transparency and accountability is at the core of good governance.”
“Eroding the hope about the future of our country and our people may in the long term result in instability, which we can ill afford. It will also be a source of anger and frustration for unemployed and poor people to be given an impression that their plight will not be eradicated speedily as the custodians of the relevant programmes are diverting the resources away from their intended goal of development, service delivery and creation of a better life for all.”
“The commitment by Cabinet, Heads of Departments and Chief Financial Officers to adhering to this agreement is ground-breaking. We need leadership with integrity to lead government. We are making it clear that leadership at the government level is for those who are able to champion the cause of the voting public unaffected by any conflict of interest and tendency towards self-enrichment.”
The agreement, which was signed during a meeting of the provincial cabinet, sets out clear procedures and timelines on how investigations against Heads of Department (HODs) and Members of the Executive Council (MECs) will be handled. The main aim of the agreement is to curb the stumbling blocks that are generally associated with delays in the finalisation of investigations.
It terms of the protocol, all complaints against HODs and MECs will be directed to the Director-General (DG) in the Office of the Premier. The DG will have to acknowledge receipt of the complaints within five working days.
The DG would also have to have the matter looked into and supply the Public Protector or her duly delegated representative with a written response on the outcome of the internal inquiry within three weeks.
Should the Public Protector find the response inadequate, the DG will be given an additional two weeks to submit a clearer response. The agreement further states that, unless circumstances do not permit, the maximum period within which a matter needs to be concluded will be two months.