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The Powers And Duties Of The Public Protector

1337 words - 6 pages

The Public Protector’s independence is constantly being questioned and sometimes even challenged. The Constitution states that the Public Protector is independent and is given powers and duties which assist in the exercise of such independence. However, the independence of the Public Protector is limited and thus debatable to a certain extent in that, as an institution, it is influenced by other constitutional structures, and this supports the argument that I agree with. Another factor to consider is the idea that the Public Protector, as an institution, supports South Africa’s constitutional democracy, which I also agree with.
The Public Protector’s powers are clearly set in the ...view middle of the document...

This leads us to the relationship between the Public Protector and the Judiciary whereby the Judiciary has the power to set aside any report of the Public Protector should the Judiciary see the specific report as improper. This shows us that the Public Protector is also subject to the Judiciary by means of the Judiciary being able to overrule a report of the Public Prosecutor and demand a new report to be completed. One also needs to consider the provisions of the Constitution where it is stated that the Public Protector does not have investigative powers over the judiciary’s decisions which shows the limitations of the Public Protector’s powers even further.
Another factor to consider in this light is the fact the executive branch of government also limits the independence of the public Protector, as an institution, by means of having the power to appoint the Public Prosecutor. This gives the executive, the ability to indirectly influence the Public Protector by means of being able to appoint a Public Protector who best-suits the executive’s interests.
Having said this, we are still lead to believe that the Public Protector is only subject to the Constitution, followed by legislation. However, the Constitution also gives power to structures like the National Assembly which limits the independence of the Public Protector which is what the provided article is aims to emphasise.
Lastly, it is important to note that the Public Protector, as an institution stipulated in and given life by Constitution, supports South Africa’s constitutional democracy through it’s independence and neutral. It, the institution known as the Public Protector, does this by acting as a connection or mediator between the people and the state by means of voicing the concerns in order to rectify problems and ensure democracy is present in the everyday lives of citizens within South Africa. This is made possible by the Public Protector being seen as separate from government and the state as a whole because the Public Protector is given the power (from the Constitution) to investigate state affairs on any level of government. The Public Protector is also able to ‘take appropriate remedial action’ which means that the Public Protector must make recommendations to correct the problem. However, this is a problem because the Public Protector’s decisions and investigation findings are not binding on the government, but are only influential.
Nevertheless, the establishment of the Public Protector as an institution supporting South Africa’s constitutional democracy, ensures accountability of the state. The Public Protector does this by being an external check on the state. This is a different form of checking done on the state compared to the checks and balances performed in light of the ‘Doctrine of the Separation of Powers’. Such a doctrine is centered around the different branches of government...

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