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Madonsela: Delivery woes cause anger

Aug 27 2012 13:58 Sapa

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Johannesburg - There is much anger over service delivery problems, Public Protector Thuli Madonsela said on Monday.

"If somebody is going to an opposition party to get assistance, that's not a declaration of war, it's their right... Let's wake up and smell the coffee, a lot of people are angry," she said in Johannesburg.

"I will say to management in government, we shouldn't run government as we are running our kitchens."

Madonsela was speaking in the city hall as part of a national dialogue on service delivery.

Her office is investigating numerous complaints about RDP houses and the illegal conversion of panel vans to minibus taxis. The former focuses on maladministration in the provision of RDP housing, and the latter on regulatory failures in the conversion of panel vans into minibus taxis.

Madonsela said in many instances people are not angry because they have not received RDP houses or services have not been delivered, but because of maladministration.

"They are also unhappy because of lack of accountability, failure to talk to people, and arrogance in dealing with problems."

Madonsela said the drafters of the constitution knew that during apartheid people needed to kick, scream, bend and break to be heard.

"In this new democracy, people don't need to kick, scream, burn and destroy to be heard. There are channels of communication."

Her office wanted to become a means to establish dialogue between the government and the citizens.

"To the organs of state we are saying, don't see us as the enemy. See us as your second eye... Constitutional democracy is about a dialogue between the state and citizens."

She said if everyone joined hands against maladministration there would be a significant improvement in eradicating poverty, inequality and unemployment.

When the public protector conducts investigations in terms of the Public Protector Act, it has the right to question people.

"We have the right to ask questions to anyone, including people who don't work for government. We investigate conduct of state affairs.

"If you take your business into government and you act corruptly or improperly we will ask you questions."

If her office thought there was misconduct, it would refer the matter for possible prosecution. She urged people to approach her office.

She said it might have been easier to deal with RDP housing had there been a proper review mechanism in place.

Madonsela said her role and that of other Chapter nine institutions is to support and strengthen constitutional democracy.

She welcomed other service delivery complaints during the public dialogue.

Of the over 2290 complaints received by her office in the 2011/12 financial year, 442 were about RDP houses, Madonsela said.

Complaints from Gauteng included people waiting for houses since 1996, houses corruptly sold or allocated to non-verified people, and houses given to people who applied after others.

"Some have alleged that corruption has also robbed them of adequate housing, in that a flawed procurement process resulted in the construction of defective RDP houses," she said.

"Some of these houses now have to be demolished and some are being rectified. We have been told that the rectification of RDP houses has become a lucrative business."

She said the illegal conversion of panel vans into taxis is a problem in Gauteng, but not as big as that of RDP housing.

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