The public protector of South Africa (PPSA) made a presentation on its annual performance plan and budget to the parliamentary justice committee today.
The acting financial officer at the public protector’s office, Nhlanhla Dick, said for the 2018/2019 financial year, the office of the public protector had a R29-million shortfall for operational costs.
“For PPSA, the 2018/2019 will be a particularly difficult year financially. Efforts to secure additional funds to support our normal operations as well as the funding for special projects and to increase capacity have not been successful to date,” Dick said.
She said the office had been forced to critically assess the way it conducted its business so as to stretch its funds.
For the 2018/2019 financial the office received an allocation of R310 million that has been allocated to the office’s core programmes.
- R58 million has been allocated to the office’s objective number one, which is the prompt delivery of its services to all persons and institutions;
- R139 million will go towards making the office an accessible public protector service; and
- the remainder will go towards administrative functions and oversight of institutions and public complaints and mechanisms to be strengthened.
Dick said 80% of the office’s budget, an estimated R250 million, funds its cost of employment and the remaining R52 million funds the office’s goods and services.
“A huge portion of our structure, as we have requested before, remains unfunded,” Dick said.
She said 38% of the budget has been split to service the office’s administration, with R58 million for its core investigations and 4% allocated for stakeholder management.
R52 million goes towards lease payments – the rental for office buildings and photocopiers.
“So one of the cost interventions we have implemented in the current year was to get rid of the lease of motor vehicles,” Dick said
She said the office is looking at alternative and more cost effective means to meet the office’s transportation needs across all of the PP’s 19 offices.
Dick said the office made a significant spending on computer services, with another major expenditure being “consultants”, which are incurred through the services of the auditor-general – external and internal – with a small amount for legal fee, which, she said, is nowhere near what the office needs to supports its litigation.
The financial officer said litigation costs have risen significantly in the past few months due to the judgment that most of the office’s cases were being taken on judicial review because of the judgment that passed that the office’s remedial action was now binding.
“So we are not going to be able to service that in the new financial year because we have only allocated R4 million towards legal fees because our budget just has no room to accommodate that,” she said.
She said the office’s normal operational costs were still a challenge, with a R29-million shortfall for the 2018/2019 financial year for operational costs needed to run operations in a normal way so the office can deliver on its mandate.
She said some of the challenges the PP faces were:
- Insufficient funding
- Low staff morale
- Capacity shortages, office lacks diverse skills, no money for attracting and retaining experts in different fields to assist the team carry out successful investigations
- Increased litigations
- Power turnaround times from other state agencies, which the office requires support from