Bill Could Change Bad Experiences To Good
The justice department has prepared a draft code of conduct to guide administrators on the practical implementation of the Promotion of Administrative Justice Act.
If properly adhered to the code will remove many of the bureaucratic nightmares members of the public frequently experience in their dealings with government bodies.
The guiding principle in the code is that administrators should respect and promote the right of individuals and the public to administrative action that is lawful, reasonable and fair. However, departure from the code's guidelines will not automatically make a procedure unfair as this will depend on the circumstances of each case.
The draft code obliges public officials to report attempts to bribe or improperly influence decision making. Officials are compelled to report colleagues' corruption or abuse of power. Conflicts of interest are to be avoided. The draft code states that an administrator shall abstain from an action in which he or his family, relatives, friends or acquaintances have an interest.
It instructs public officials to be courteous and accessible in their dealings with the public and urges that the waiting time for services should be minimised as far as possible.
"Every communication to the administration shall receive an acknowledgement of receipt within two weeks, except if a substantive reply can be sent within that period.
"If a letter is addressed to an administration that has no competence to deal with the matter, it shall ensure that the document is transferred without delay to the competent administration."
The public will have a right to know how similar matters were dealt with in the past. Government administrations will be obliged to keep records of all correspondence , with each matter having a separate file.
The department has invited comment on the draft code before February 18.
With acknowledgement to Linda Ensor and Business Day.