Chief Justice Ngcobo highlights the importance of the Public Protector (Ombudsman)

Independent investigation of government action is an essential component of a strong constitutional democracy, Chief Justice Sandile Ngcobo said on Wednesday.

Addressing the African Ombudsman and Mediators’ Association (AOMA) needs assessment workshop at the University of KwaZulu-Natal in Durban, Chief Justice Ngcobo said this was the value of a constitutionally-defined Public Protector or ombudsman.

He said the importance of the role of such institutions was especially clear in many countries throughout Africa, where there was often a desperate need for basic human needs such as food, drinking water, health care, housing, education and social security.

“Our countries cannot bear the improper allocation of government resources. Having a Public Protector, or Ombudsman, with a mandate to investigate and publicly report in government administration is essential,” Chief Justice Ngcobo said.

Ombudsman from all over Africa commenced with the workshop following the launch of the African Ombudsman Research Centre (AORC) on Tuesday. It aims to validate the research conducted to establish the needs of ombudsman institutions in the continent.

The research found, among other things, that there was comparatively little knowledge about the institution of the ombudsman in the continent. It also found that there was a pressing need for information sharing and research as well as effective training, primarily on the practical aspects of operating an ombudsman office.

Chief Justice Ngcobo said, like courts, the work of the ombudsman was crucial to the people’s realisation and enjoyment of their fundamental human rights. This was particularly critical in countries emerging from divisions, oppression and colonialism.

“Good governance and the equitable distribution of resources is the only way for our people to one day enjoy the promise of equality and human dignity we make in our constitutions,” he said.

He added that, in order to be fully effective, ombudsman institutions needed to be independent and accessible and accountable to the public.

The workshop will end on Thursday, where AOMA will issue a communiqué during a press conference outlining the resolutions of its Executive Committee meeting, which preceded the AORC launch on Monday.

Issued by the African Ombudsman and Mediators Association

For more information, contact:

Oupa Segalwe
Manager: Outreach, Education and Communications
Public Protector South Africa (AOMA Secretariat)
072 264 3273


Published Date: 
Wednesday, March 16, 2011