Mkhwebane vows to serve public despite not getting additional funds in budget

Busisiwe Mkhwebane. Image credit: Twitter/Public Protector SA

In a subtle dig at Finance Minister Tito Mboweni, Public Protector Advocate Busisiwe Mkhwebane has vowed to keep serving the public despite not receiving additional allocation of funds in the 2020/2021 budget.

Mboweni made no mention of additional funding to the Public Protector’s office in his budget speech in Parliament on Wednesday.

In a tweet soon after the budget speech, Mkhwebane said her office operates under “harsh conditions with a high workload.”

‘No funds for additional investigators’

She wrote, “The public should take note that @PublicProtector will continue serving you even though working under harsh conditions with [a] high workload and no additional budget allocated by Minister of Finance for additional investigators.”

In another tweet, she thanked her staff for their hard work and determination and for being “a safe haven to the marginalised who have lost hope in state affairs.”

In its 2019/2020 Annual Performance Plan, the Public Protector’s office indicated that it had been allocated R322.6 million in the 2019 Medium Term Expenditure Framework (MTEF) for the 2019/2020 financial year.

However, in a presentation to Parliament in July last year, it said it needed an extra R40 million to adequately conduct its work.

Rising litigation costs

Mkhwebane has also previously stated that her office is increasingly engaged in litigation as a result of its reports.

“Increasingly, our meagre budget gets depleted through litigation as more and more of our reports are taken on judicial review. This is a direct result of the Constitutional Court decision that our remedial action is binding,” she said in her office’s Annual Performance Plan.

Although Mboweni made no additional allocation to the Public Protector’s office, he announced an additional R2.4 billion for the National Prosecuting Authority (NPA), the Special Investigating Unit and the Directorate for Priority Crime Investigation (Hawks).

He said, “This will enable the appointment of approximately 800 investigators and 277 prosecutors who will assist with, among other things, the clearing the backlog of cases such as those emanating from the [Deputy Chief Justice Raymond] Zondo commission [into state capture].”

This is a huge win for the National Director of Public Prosecutions (NDPP) Shamila Batohi, who called on Ramaphosa in October last year to address staffing issues at the NPA and the Hawks.

The NPA is facing increasing pressure from the public to prosecute alleged high profile state capture and corruption perpetrators.

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