Public Protector’s office cares about the public, says advocate Kholeka Gcaleka

Acting Public Protector advocate Kholeka Gcaleka. Picture: File

Acting Public Protector advocate Kholeka Gcaleka. Picture: File

Published Mar 30, 2023


Pretoria - Acting Public Protector advocate Kholeka Gcaleka has warned the government and political parties that her office is non-partisan and its major interest is that of the public it serves.

Gcaleka made these comments while addressing the National Press Club in Pretoria on Monday.

Her comments came in the wake of criticism following the publication of her preliminary report on the Phala Phala probe which cleared President Cyril Ramaphosa of any wrongdoing.

Gcaleka did not want to be drawn on her findings in the preliminary report, saying: “Kindly allow me not to engage on its merits as this matter has not been concluded. It is in the best interest of all of us that we allow due process in the matter, so that whichever finding prevails at its conclusion is able to stand, most importantly, court scrutiny should it be taken on judicial review,” she said.

Gcaleka emphasised her office’s non-partisan role in a clear indication of her determination to reply to opposition parties, especially the EFF, DA and ATM which condemned her findings.

“I take this opportunity to stress the importance of resisting political interference in the work of the Public Protector SA. It is crucial that parties to a dispute that is being handled by the office have complete confidence that the Public Protector SA is not an advocate for individuals, but rather an impartial investigator of individuals’ complaints against the government; and take resonance in that we report to Parliament, and should utilise that objective opportunity to make us accountable.”

Gcaleka said her office had a responsibility as an institution to instil confidence in its work through due process, saying the former CEO of the South African Human Rights Commission noted that members of Chapter 9 institutions that become too independent face major criticism and are sometimes subjected to undue political pressure, intimidation and even insults by some members and supporters of political parties.

“These attacks show a lack of respect for Chapter 9 institutions and an increasing hostility toward attempts to hold the government and those in power accountable,” she said.

Gcaleka also expressed concern about the lack of service delivery by key institutions.

“Despite often large investments and concerted policy efforts to improve things such as housing, public services in their generality, infrastructure and the state’s technical capacities, the delivery of public services remains disconcertingly inadequate and unequally distributed.

“Such problems disproportionately affect the most vulnerable members of our population,” she said.

Gcaleka said while racial disparities had gradually declined, many South Africans lived in abject poverty.

“Significantly large segments of our population lack access to decent housing and adequate infrastructure services such as electricity and water, particularly in rural areas and in the vast, high-density settlements surrounding most cities.

“Broader challenges to social cohesion include widespread de facto residential racial and socio-economic segregation,” she said.

Pretoria News