A ministerial order that was published in the official Gazette of September 28, 2009, handed the Ombudsman’s office additional powers to investigate graft and injustice within the country.
Previously, the office of the ombudsman would compile reports and come up with recommendations that would be passed on to other judicial institutions to follow up. This did not only result in delays but also led to people losing faith in the Ombudsman’s office.
After all, justice delayed is justice denied.
Additionally, without prosecutorial powers, the Ombudsman’s office had been reduced to a toothless bull dog, thus giving those involved in graft and injustice nothing to fear when it came to their investigations.
The Ombudsman’s powers to investigate should be as strong as possible and just as other countries like Spain, Philippines, Bosnia and Sweden, the office should legally be in position to prosecute public officials.
There is no doubt such strong enforcement powers will be a great asset in the anti-corruption drive.
Now that the Ombudsman is getting additional powers, the office should embark on an accessibility strategy, to the population, in order to play an effective role.
This can be done through various mediums such as advertising the office’s programmes through radio, TV and with the increased use of technology and mobile phones, the institution can set up toll-free telephone access.
The complaint filing procedure should be flexible to enable those who cannot get to the Ombudsman’s office to lodge their complaints through telephone or mail.
The office should also endeavour to maintain local provincial representation and make use of the local media to inform the public of their presence and the powers that they now have.
A powerful ombudsman will help build and establish trust from the public.
Once there is trust, the people will come forward to report cases of corruption and injustice which when dealt with will further enhance the key components of good governance which are; transparency, good governance, anti-corruption and respect for human rights.