Lilongwe — Ombudsman Justice Tujilane Chizumila (RTD), Friday said the use of Alternative Dispute Resources (ADR) has shortening the period a case stays in the office.
Justice Chizumila said this in Lilongwe at Central Office of Information (COI) when she was giving a report on the operations of the office of the Ombudsman in 2013/14 financial year.
"The ADR was introduced in 2011 contrary to the traditional method of handling numerous public inquiries and the resultant issuance of determination has proved to be expeditious. The system is user friendly and lessen accumulation of public inquiries and determination," explained Chizumila.
She further said her office also introduced a one year file-life cycle in 2012 to work toward ensuring that the case takes a maximum of one year to complete its cycle, hoping that in the next two years the number of Non Complied Determinations will likely be reduced by 75 per cent.
Chizumila also said there has been a tremendous improvement and response rate from various public institution giving an example of 2013 of which she said out of 331 cases received 46 were closed, 36 were referred to other competent case handling institution and 40 per cent of cases were closed.
According to Chizumila 928 on-spot investigations have been conducted and 274 cases have been conducted representing 30 per cent.
Chizumila said her office has also registered other successes which include: financial management and now the office receives support from Norway through United National Development Fund (UNDP),
On audit status she said the report covered a period of two financial years of 2010/11 and 2011/12 which did not find any misuse and misappropriate of resources or abuse of office as it had been alleged.
"The office has now established two additional regional offices and Gender and Child Desk Officer because behind every complaint there are hidden faces of children and women who suffer silently," said Chizumila.
However, Chizumila said the office has a number of challenges despite the numerous successes registered.
"Inadequate funding is a challenge as the office has continued to decline, more especially on Other Recurrent Transactions (ORT), which is the core funding of our activities and other region offices were receiving as low as MK10, 000," she said.
According to Chizumila equipment still remain a challenge with the establishment of two additional regional offices in Lilongwe and Balaka.
She also said the office lack basic office equipments as most of the computers are non-functional which affects file management system and lack of access as four of its office is not user friendly to persons with disabilities and elderly as they are situated up-stairs.
The Office of Ombudsman was created in 1994 under section 120 of the Constitution of the republic of Malawi completed by the Ombudsman Act No. 10 of 1996 and it became operational in 1995 when the first Ombudsman was appointed.