Pretoria - The government has comprehensive public procurement regulations in place but is weak in implementing them, deputy Public Protector Kevin Malunga said this week.
The purpose of this regulatory framework was to ensure the government procured goods or services in a way that was fair, equitable, transparent, competitive, and cost-effective, he told the annual GovLaw Conference in Pretoria.
“However, reports by the Public Protector, auditor general, and research by oversight bodies, such as the Public Service Commission, have consistently shown weaknesses in the implementation of the framework,” he said.
Malunga said maladministration and corruption continued to derail public service delivery and his office frequently received complaints about tenders and state contracts.
The most common complaints were related to tender advertisements and documents, tender adjudication or consideration, cancellation of contracts, allegations of corruption, fraud or bribery, and allegations that normal tender procedures had not been followed.
He said the Public Protector's office, headed by Thuli Madonsela, tried to resolve complaints timeously, even though it was “swamped” with around 40 000 complaints in the past year alone.
He called on the government to focus on institutionalising accountability, integrity, and responsiveness.
Malunga believed it was important for “integrity institutions” like the Public Protector to remind the government and its officials of the promises made to give people a better life.
He said it was not about his office having “teeth” but about it being the conscience of the state.
“If government listens to the complaints of citizens it will probably earn their trust,” he said.
“It then becomes a win-win situation as constitutional democracy is enhanced and trust in government is improved.”
The reverse was true if the government ignored people's complaints, he said.
Malunga was delivering a paper titled “The Office of the Public Protector and State Contracts/Tenders Ä A Discussion of Jurisdiction and Remedies”.