Protocol agreement signed to deal HODs, MECs investigations

PRETORIA: (By Steve Jobs)– KwaZulu-Natal Premier Dr Zweli Mkhize and Public Protector Advocate Thuli Madonsela have accorded a protocol agreement, setting out clear procedures and timelines on how investigations against HODs and MECs will be handled.

The agreement, signed  during a meeting of the provincial cabinet in Pietermaritzburg, aims 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 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.

Mkhize described the signing of the agreement as a significant development in the fight against fraud, corruption and maladministration in KwaZulu-Natal province.

“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,” Mkhize said.

He added that the provincial cabinet has committed itself 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, maladministration and other issues.

“As the provincial government, we recognize that the Office of the Public Protector represents the people of South Africa. Therefore, we believe that linking the citizens’ voice with transparency and accountability is at the core of good governance.”

He further warned that eroding the hope about the future of the country and people may in the long term result in instability, which they 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,” Mkhize said.

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