Justice and Correctional Services Committee Welcomes Investigation into Role of Politicians in Vrede Dairy Farm

Parliament� The Portfolio Committee on Justice and Correction welcomes the commitment by the Public Protector (PP) to open a fresh investigation into the involvement of politicians in the Vrede dairy farm in the Free State.

The commitment was made by Adv Busisiwe Mkhwebane during a presentation on the annual report and budget to the committee and after questions by the committee Chairperson, Dr Mathole Motshekga, regarding similar concerns raised to the PP during a meeting with the committee last month. Dr Motshekga was concerned that since that meeting in March where he raised this issue, no steps have been taken to start a new. I agree. The file will be opened and the matter will be investigated about the role of the politicians, as well as to the impact on beneficiaries, agreed Adv Mkhwebane.

We welcome this step. No one is above the law. Everyone involved in allegations of mismanagement, maladministration or corruption must be investigated. This money was meant for poor South Africans to lift them out of the levels of poverty they are currently living in, said Dr Motshekga.

The committee further raised concern regarding the capacity in the Office of the PP, as certain communications sent from the committee to her seemed to not have reached her. This speaks to the capacity in your office. You need to appoint people and they must take responsibility. That is also why we are concerned about the absence of the Deputy Public Protector (DPP). The DPP cannot be reduced to providing training, said Dr Motshekga.

The PP once again requested additional funding for the 2019 medium term expenditure framework. The Office of the PP projected a shortfall of R29 million for operational spending in 2018/19 and said this will affect how it runs its operations and it (the Office of the PP) meeting its constitutional mandate. The committee reminded the PP that after her request last year, the National Treasury indicated that all departments, entities and constitutional bodies must re-prioritise their budgets due to the financial constraints of the country. The committee urged that the PP relook at her budget to see which budget items she can compromise.

Adv Mkhwebane told the committee that the inadequate funding of her office has an impact on the delays in finalising matters. Dr Motshekga further cautioned against the numerous matters of litigation by the PP against government and rulings against her. We can’t have a situation where the budget we give you and debate on service delivery goes to litigation. We can’t have a situation where the money is spent by you on court case against Ministers.

Dr Motshekga said the committee wants the institution to function and to function well.

Source: Parliament of the Republic of South Africa