4 December 2017

Botswana: We Are On Track - Ombudsman

Maun — Ombudsman, Mr Augustine Makgonatsotlhe says his office has been and continues to contribute in no small measures to the promotion of administrative justice, the principle of legality and the rule of law.

He said they had ensured that administrative decisions were within confines of the law, adding that they were also doing well in holding public administration accountable.

He noted when sharing some of their success during a meeting that in so doing, the office successfully promotes good public administration and good governance in general.

Mr Makgonatsotlhe explained that as an alternative mechanism of dispute resolution, the Ombudsman acts as a case management system to adversarial litigation.

"Giving our democratic dispensation meaning or enhancing democracy, the Ombudsman is inseparable from democracy because the central idea of democracy is that people's rights, freedoms and privileges shall be vindicated and protected and their legitimate grievances addressed or removed," he added.

Furthermore, he said citizen complaints could not be ignored without undermining democracy and good governance.

Mr Makganotsotlhe also noted that his office had improved accessibility to services, citing the establishment of branch offices in Francistown, Tsabong and Maun.

He said public education was their core business, hence accessibility was fundamental because without it, there is no how people could be helped.

The fact that their services were rendered to the public for free is an opportunity for accessibility.

Some of the challenges he mentioned include delayed responses from ministries or departments; resources constraints; both financial and human and low level of awareness of the office mandate, especially in rural areas.

He said a survey has indicated an increase of awareness, particularly in urban centres.

He however stated that efforts were being made to address some of the challenges.

He said currently they had consultative meetings with principal officers to persuade them to have a change of mind.

With regard to low level of awareness, Mr Makgonatsotlhe said they had established a public education unit, which had enabled them to intensify the imparting of knowledge on the role and significance of the institutions.

The meeting also heard that the establishment of the African Ombudsman Research Centre in Durban was a wonderful opportunity to up-skill officers, especially those who carry out the core mandate.

In addition, Mr Makgonatsotlhe noted that judicial pronouncements both within the country and in the region brought clarity to the fact that recommendations made by institutions of the stature of the public protector and the Judicial Service Commission were to be taken with the seriousness accorded a court order.

He said the fact that they were recommendations did not mean they could be disregarded without good reason.

He also noted that the non-conflicted nature of the manner in which the institution resolved dispute made the Ombudsman a dispute resolution mechanism of choice.

Lastly, he underscored the need for institutions that are in pursuit of justice to collaborate and be conversant with the role each one plays.

He said they were all brother in arms as they were heading towards the same direction.

Source : BOPA

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