Botswana: No Direct Link Between Ombudsman, Constituency Offices

Gaborone — Office of the Ombudsman does no work directly with MPs' constituency offices, says Mr Augustine Makgonatsotlhe.

Appearing before the Public Accounts Committee (PAC) recently, Mr Makgonatsotlhe, who is the Ombudsman, said because of the politics that often surrounded constituency offices, his office did not have direct relations with them.

Traditionally, he explained, MPs handled their constituents' complaints therefore the Office of the Ombudsman only related with their offices through Parliament with regard to the workload and complaints they received.

However, Mr Makgonatsotlhe said constituency offices were able to pass complaints to the Ombudsman if they felt they could not adequately handle particular issues.

A complainant should agree with the constituency office to hand the matter to Ombudsman, he said.

Mr Makgonatsotlhe said his office received many cases especially from local government ministry at council level.

He said his office engaged with councils to sensitise them on maladministration issues.

His office had also produced a book on best administration practices, Mr Makgonatsotlhe said. The Ombudsman said his office also received complaints from the private sector but was restricted by law to handle only public sector issues.

Concerning his office's independence, Mr Makgonatsotlhe said it did not take any instruction or authority from anybody.

He however said being under the Ministry for Presidential Affairs, Governance and Public Administration; usually created the perception that the office was not independent.

Mr Makgonatsotlhe also stated that the Directorate of Public Service Management had authority over recruitment and termination of employee contracts.

Bobonong MP Mr Taolo Lucas said constituency offices received many complaints regarding maladministration, therefore needed assistance.

In addition, Mr Lucas said the Office of Ombudsman should orientate constituency officers in handling such issues.

MP for Francistown South Mr Wynter Mmolotsi suggested that Ombudsman officers be deployed at constituency offices.

Mr Mmolotsi said constituency offices were not competent to handle issues of maladministration.

The Office of the Ombudsman is mandated to investigate complaints of injustice or maladministration in the public service.

Mr Makgonatsotlhe said his office allowed walk-ins as well as written reported cases.

Currently the office has three offices in Gaborone, Francistown and Maun.

<i>Source : BOPA</i>

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