Johannesburg - Although distinct from other oversight bodies, Public Protector Thuli Madonsela has acknowledged that her office has a broad scope and overlaps with virtually all Chapter Nine institutions – from the Auditor-General to the Inspector-General of Intelligence.
Madonsela briefed Parliament on Tuesday on various challenges facing her office.
The presentation was to the joint justice and correctional services committee and the women in the Presidency committee, which was briefed by various institutions supporting democracy.
The Public Service Commission also finds itself in a complex position where its functions duplicate that of other institutions such as the Commission on Gender Equality.
The committee said the overlaps were a major concern for Parliament and had implications on the budget.
Madonsela stated: “We have identified six core mandate areas that come from legislation beyond the constitutional mandate. The constitutional mandate is broad.
“The office has the power to investigate any conduct that is regarded or suspected or alleged to be improper. That covers pretty much anything except judicial decisions.”
She said her office shared an anti-corruption mandate with others like the Auditor-General and the “whistle-blower safe harbour”.
“The overlaps, honourable chairperson, are with everyone because of the nature of the work. We have prepared for you an indication on how we manage the overlaps.
“Firstly, we said that although the Public Protector is distinct, its mandate to investigate improper conduct, maladministration, corruption, unethical violations, abuse of power and abuse of state resources overlaps with that of virtually all oversight bodies,” said Madonsela.
On procurement irregularities, her mandate overlapped with the Auditor-General, Special Investigating Unit, Hawks, Anti-Corruption Forum and Inspector-General of Intelligence.
Madonsela’s briefing comes after a previous committee meeting where members were reported to want to “clip the wings” of the Public Protector because of its broad mandate.
Justice committee chairman Mathole Motshekga said reports that they want to clip Madonsela’s wings were “mischievous”.
“I think you have clarified things. At the last engagement there was a hot issue in the press that some members of Parliament want to strip you of your powers or clip your wings.
“I therefore want to say for the record that this Parliament made a constitution that created Chapter Nine institutions,” said Motshekga.
He added that South Africa was not a rich country and “we can’t afford to duplicate”.