Public Protector’s Pan-African Anti-Corruption Conference call for strengthening of Ombudsman Institutions
Public Protector, Adv. Madonsela, speaking on the eve of the Pan-African Anti-Corruption Conference organized by the Institute for Security Studies and the Hanns Seidel Foundation on Monday evening in Cape Town, said, “Poor compliance enforcement not only breeds systemic maladministration but also fosters impunity, which is a major factor behind systemic corruption.”
Adv. Thuli Madonsela, who is also the Executive Secretary of the African Ombudsman and Mediators Association (AOMA), called on the Pan-African Anti-Corruption Conference to scrutinize the role of Ombudsman (Public Protectors), their recognition as agents of change and how they can be strengthened.
“As you deliberate these issues, I urge you to incorporate the role of the Ombudsman in the pursuit of good governance and combating corruption. Where do we place the Ombudsman or the Public Protector in the fight against maladministration and corruption in the continent? How do we strengthen these institutions for the greater benefit of the continent? Are they adequately recognised as agents of change in the quest for good governance in and a corrupt free Africa? Do we see them helping to deliver the elusive African dream?” she asked.
While Africa’s troubles cannot be reduced to a single factor such as corruption, it has played an important role not only in sabotaging Africa’s quest for economic growth and development, but has also undermined efforts aimed at the consolidation of democracy, human rights and the rule of law, she said.
Adv. Madonsela stated that, in countries where Ombudsman institutions exist they should be given the necessary support to function independently and effectively.
She applauded Finance Minister Pravin Gordhan for indicating in the National Budget that the Public Protector and the Independent Complaints Directorate (ICD) were to be allocated an increased share of the budget so that they can continue supporting and strengthening our constitutional democracy.
That shows political will, if governments invest in such institutions, they are taking very bold steps to safeguard democracy, she said.
Adv. Madonsela told the Conference delegates, the Ombudsman may well be the answer as it is closest to the justice paradigm most of the people resonate with and AOMA views it as one of the good practices African countries ought to embrace.
“Such bodies were never meant to replace the traditional checks and balances... Instead, they were meant to offer a unique service that ensures quicker accountability and justice as a way of complementing legislatures, courts and other traditional check and balances,” she said.
Concluding her address, Adv. Madonsela said one of the best practice areas that need to be strengthened is people empowerment and civic participation. She cited the recent creation of Corruption Watch, the National Good Governance week and the integrated anti-corruption strategy as some of the initiatives in South Africa.
One of the good practices from other countries worth looking at is an integrated anti-corruption framework and a dedicated agency, she said.
Kgalalelo Masibi (Ms)
Spokesperson for the Public Protector
Tel: 012 366 7006
Cell: 076 507 0399
Tuesday, February 28, 2012