The amount of money demanded by the organisation which is suppose to act as the watch dog of public criminality and other fraudulent practices, was quite alarming.
The Public Protector’s office needs at least R1bn to stay afloat and work effectively, Advocate Busisiwe Mkhwebane said on Thursday.
Briefing Parliament’s justice committee on her budget and annual plan, the Public Protector and her delegation pleaded for more money.
“I know it might sound like a scary amount,” she told the committee.
In her strategic plan, which was also distributed in the committee, she said the allocation of R263.3m “is a drop in the ocean”.
Only half of their organisational structure was funded, while core functions were underfunded, Mkhwebane said.
An allocation of R1bn would assist in addressing complex issues.
Newly-appointed Public Protector CEO Themba Dlamini told the committee that the R1bn was a conservative amount.
They were sitting with a shortfall of over R600m, he said, over a three-year period.
He would make a detailed account of how they came to R1bn, he told the committee.
The call for more funding for the body is not new.
Former public protector Thuli Madonsela continuously appealed for more money for the office, without much success.
On Thursday, Mkhwebane also analysed her first 100 days in office.
During that time, she said, nine investigation reports were released on matters affecting ordinary people.
“Performance on investigations has slightly improved, from 11% to 22%. Strategic positions were filled and more appointments were expected,” she told the committee.
A skills audit had been conducted, and high-speed connectivity installed at 80% of the Public Protector offices.
In her strategic report, she raised concerns about security at some of the Public Protector offices.
“It has become a major risk and several break-ins and muggings have been reported in provincial and regional offices. This is a matter of serious concern,” she said.
Due to financial constraints, they had not been able to relocate high risk provincial offices with urgency.