The Presidential Years

The President believes it may be helpful if he were to expand on the decision he has taken, firstly, to appoint a commission of inquiry into the South African Rugby Football Union, and, secondly, that certain matters relating to the award of a project to Motheo Construction (Pty) Ltd would be better investigated by the Public Protector.

In regard to the award of a project to the Motheo Construction (Pty) Ltd, a commission of inquiry has already been instituted to examine the application of housing policy and the award of housing projects in the Mpumalanga Province, the administration of which was responsible for the decision to award this project.

The outstanding question, as to whether any family or other close relationships were improperly involved in the award of this project, is a matter that should be investigated by the Public Protector. The appointment of a Commission of Inquiry to establish the facts in such a limited matter would be costly, would not only take a long time, but would be inappropriate in the light of the fact that the Constitution specifically establishes an institution to investigate such complaints. The Public Protector is the pre-eminent instrument for investigating corruption and impropriety in the civil service. The Constitution states that the Public Protector is to investigate "any conduct... in the public administration in any sphere of government, that is alleged or suspected to be improper or to result in impropriety or prejudice." It is able to do so promptly and without incurring substantial additional costs. It is for this reason that the Public Protector is appointed by Parliament with a seventy-five percent majority. The President rejects the implicit suggestion from some quarters that the Public Protector is not up to this task.

A commission of Inquiry is better suited to investigating more complex sets of facts, questions of policy in regard to matters of public interest, the adequacy of the relevant regulatory framework, or the presence of appropriate management practices or a pattern of institutional corruption.

The President in general has been reluctant to appoint- Commissions of Inquiry unless the circumstances strongly suggests the establishment of such an instrument. In the case of the management of South African Rugby Football, the subject matter, indeed,- suggested the appointment of a Commission of Inquiry. The mattes to be investigated are quite clearly beyond the scope of the Public Protector. The inquiry into the South African Rugby Football Union relates to, and concerns the management of rugby in South Africa as a whole. A variety of issues had been raised by players, public, the media and administrators over an extended period of time. The appointment of a commission will allow for a public process in which the public interest, the best interests of the game itself, and the management of its facilities can be engaged with. Existing practices which have been the subject of criticism can be opened up for public inspection, and for justification by relevant parties. Although it's conceivable that the inquiry could uncover irregularities, it's purpose is not to embark on a witch hunt

The President is pleased with the response of the South African Rugby Union to the announcement of the Browde Commission. He welcomes particularly the decision of SARFU to co-operate with the Commission. Should SARFU request fuller reasons as to why the President saw fit to appoint such an inquiry, he will be willing to supply them. No such request has as yet been received.

The President believes that there has never been a better opportunity for South African Rugby to justify the decisions taken by it and its management practices.

The cloud hanging over South African Rugby needs to be lifted and the President is confident that the inquiry presents an opportunity to do so, and to dispel any impression that may exist that it is retreating into a laager of racial chauvinism. The President believes that Rugby will meet the challenge of being one of our most celebrated national sports, a sport played and supported by South Africans throughout the country.

South African Government Information Website