29/05/2013 – ACDP voices concern over severe budgetary constraints

SPEECH ON BUDGET VOTE 24: JUSTICE AND CONSTITUTIONAL DEVELOPMENT
SPEECH BY STEVE SWART, MP

ACDP voices concern over severe budgetary constraints

·        welcomes reestablishment of dedicated sexual offences courts throughout the country

“Chairperson,

The main budget vote for Justice and Constitutional Development amounts to R16.7 billion. If direct charges are excluded, the budget amounts to R14.1 billion.

The ACDP is concerned about the severe budgetary constraints upon both the department, NPA and other entities accountable to parliament such as the Public Protector and Human Rights Commission.

We note a gradual improvement in the financial accounting of the departments’ financial accounting and trust that this will also lead to improved service delivery.

We regret, however, that the NPA is unable to provide two prosecutors for courts and that the department has had to cut back on various projects due to budgetary constraints.

We note, however, that the NPA intends taking the disciplinary proceedings against Adv. Glynis Breytenbach on review following her acquittal. Is this the best usage of limited resources? There is already, this morning, speculation as to a political motive for this review.

The possible consequences for the effectiveness of the criminal justice sector as a whole must be considered when we deliberate on this budget vote.

We need to argue more strenuously for additional funds for the department.

Crime and corruption continue to pose one of the greatest threats to the realization of peace and security for citizens in South Africa.

The SIU estimated that R30 billion is lost to the state annually through procurement fraud. The Minister of Finance, himself, said it is a difficult task to combat procurement fraud as “there are too many points of resistance” and “too many people who have a stake in keeping the system the way it is.”

It will undoubtedly take a special effort from all of us in government, parliament, business and the broader society to combat this scourge.

The SIU, together with other law enforcement agencies has the necessary power to prosecute and recover misappropriated funds. These agencies should be given additional resources to effectively combat fraud and corruption.

The SIU, in particular, plays a very important role in this regard. We understand, however, that the SIU has decided to investigate fewer, but more complex cases.

If the new approach focuses on impact, the targets for funds recovered should be considerably higher. We look forward to receiving a more comprehensive report regarding the proclamations received, their status, and outcome of investigations, where permissible.

The ACDP welcomes the reestablishment of the dedicated sexual offences courts throughout the country. These courts should never have been closed in the first place.

As a member of the Magistrates Commission, I await promised information on plans to assist magistrates who continuously have to hear sexual offences cases.

A larger pool of dedicated magistrates to allow for rotation should be instituted.  But what about prosecutors, police officials and social workers who have to deal with sexual offences on an ongoing manner, let alone the victims themselves?

We, in the ACDP, are uncomfortable with the spat between us in the committee, and the Public Protector. We fully support the exceptional work that the Public Protector and her staff perform. But clearly, the Public Protector cannot be above parliament scrutiny as long as it does not interfere with the Public Protector’s independence as a Chapter 9 institution.

It is not impermissible in our view, to ask questions about the best use of limited resources. That clearly does not interfere in the Public Protectors’ mandate and discretion, which is wide.

However, such questions from parliament are necessary, given the context of limited resources, particularly when funds are sought.

The ACDP will support this budget vote.

I thank you.”

(Check against delivery)

-ENDS-

What R30 Billion in Corruption cost South Africans

 

, , , , , , , , , , , , ,

No comments yet.

Leave a Reply