President Cyril Ramaphosa has revealed that national and provincial spheres of governments have spent approximately R7 billion in litigation fees.
The President was speaking at the inaugural Intergovernmental National Litigation Forum held in Pretoria on Friday.
SERVICE DELIVERY IS KEY TO AVOID LITIGATION
Ramaphosa said the fact that some South Africans are resorting to the courts to uphold their rights points to widespread and systemic shortcomings in service delivery.
The President highlighted that state litigation costs have become “untenable and unsustainable” and must be addressed.
“Litigation against the state has risen by staggering levels. The legal fees for national and provincial spheres of government over the past five financial years amount to approximately R7 billion. The contingent liability resulting from claims against the State prior to the proclamation of the State Attorney Amendment Act of 2014 still needs to be fully interrogated.
“But the Auditor-General has reported that the contingent liability was sitting at R147 billion for the 2020/2021 financial year.”
President Cyril Ramaphosa
Ramaphosa said there needs to be mechanisms in place to more effectively safeguard the interests and resources of the South African people in order to reduce litigation against the state.
He said mediation in good faith as a means to avoid going to court is a way that can reduce litigation costs without “short-changing” citizens.
“When people are concerned about anything that affects their lives, there needs to be engagement, there needs to be discussion and there needs to be negotiation to see the extent to which matters can be resolved….In this time of great scarcity, let us do everything within our means – through effective coordination of litigation – to free up the financial resources of the state to pursue our developmental agenda and improve people’s lives,” Ramaphosa added.