Justice minister Ronald Lamola says discussions on private donor funding for the NPA were ongoing. Picture: SOWETAN/VATHISWA RUSELO
Justice minister Ronald Lamola says discussions on private donor funding for the NPA were ongoing. Picture: SOWETAN/VATHISWA RUSELO

Justice and correctional services minister Ronald Lamola says more thought is needed regarding the possibility of approaching private donors to fund some programmes of the National Prosecuting Authority (NPA).

There have been concerns in legal and political circles that private donor funding could compromise the independence of the authority.

In July Lamola told a media briefing that private donor funding was under consideration due to fiscal constraints and the budget shortfall experienced by the NPA. He told journalists his department was engaging with the Treasury to make sure the NPA was “insulated from any form of perceived or real kind of compromise of its independence”.

Responding to a question from the EFF in parliament last week, Lamola said the directors-general of the department of justice and the Treasury, as well as the national director of public prosecutions, have been engaging on the funding matter.

“The potential risk relating to the impact of donor funding on government in general, to ensure the protection of objectivity and independence, has been thoroughly considered through the years,” said Lamola.

He said the risk of donor funding has been managed through ensuring a proper framework under the auspices of the Treasury, which regulates the acceptance and allocation of donor funding internationally and locally.

“Given the significant risk in relation to the NPA, specifically, the parties have reiterated their commitment to ensure that any funding provided to the NPA will be channelled, as per approved framework, through the National Treasury,” said Lamola.

He said the NPA needs funding to be effective.

“If the fiscus does not have it, the private donor funding must be able to help us. But how do we ensure that the NPA is insulated from any conflict? I [made it clear] that the matter should be explored with the involvement of National Treasury,” said Lamola.

Previously the EU, the Royal Danish Commission and various UN organisations have funded NPA initiatives

The minister said the donor funds could not be used to pay NPA employees. The compensation of employees in the prosecuting authority was appropriated by parliament in terms of the Appropriations Act.

“Transparent and carefully managed donor/private funding will support strategically important processes and capacities without replacing” government funding for core operations and staff costs, Lamola said. 

“The concern that donor/private funding may influence the NPA is legitimate … it would be imperative to ensure that the acceptance of donor/private funding does not impinge on the independence of the NPA, especially with regard to its decisions on who it investigates and prosecutes.”

Lamola therefore said before writing off this option, more thought was needed about how such funding could be accessed under the guidance of the Treasury.

With Linda Ensor

phakathib@businesslive.co.za