Om­buds­man needs more pow­ers

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THE Of­fice of the Om­buds­man was es­tab­lished by sec­tions 134 and 135 of the 1993 Con­sti­tu­tion of Le­sotho. Its na­ture, du­ties and func­tions are fully de­scribed in the Om­buds­man Act of 1996. Its func­tions range from pro­vid­ing ef­fi­cient, ef­fec­tive and ac­ces­si­ble ser­vices in the fil­ing of com­plaints against pub­lic sec­tor agen­cies by in­di­vid­u­als to con­duct­ing in­de­pen­dent in­ves­ti­ga­tions in or­der to pro­vide timely re­me­dial ac­tion for its clients.

There­fore it serves the func­tion of pro­tect­ing the pub­lic against abuse of power by author­i­ties within the state and pro­mot­ing trans­parency and ef­fec­tive ad­min­is­tra­tion in gov­ern­ment agen­cies.

In spite of this es­sen­tial func­tion in gov­ern­ment ad­min­is­tra­tion, the Om­buds­man still leaves a great deal to be de­sired in terms of its ef­fec­tive­ness in en­sur­ing jus­tice for com­plainants, which hap­pens to be an in­te­gral part of its man­date.

As an in­sti­tu­tion with a quasi ju­di­cial func­tion, it has a lim­i­ta­tion to its func­tion in that its find­ings are only ad­vi­sory to gov­ern­ment and do not have the force of law. Sec­ond is the level of col­lab­o­ra­tion the Om­buds­man has with sim­i­lar for­eign of­fices as well as re­gional bod­ies, as this pro­vides it with var­i­ous tools from dif­fer­ent ju­ris­dic­tions.

Lastly, the as­pect to be looked into is the level of pub­lic aware­ness the Om­buds­man’s of­fice has within Le­sotho and how to im­prove on it. A com­par­a­tive anal­y­sis is there­fore nec­es­sary in or­der to rec­om­mend how best the Le­sotho Om­buds­man may reach the ul­ti­mate ef­fec­tive­ness re­quired from such a watch­dog IN re­sponse to “Le­sotho fer­tile ground for in­sta­bil­ity: Phumaphi” ( Le­sotho Times, Oc­to­ber 1, 2015), SADC Com­mis­sion of In­quiry chairperson, Jus­tice Mpa­phi Phumaphi, is be­ing forth­right in this in­stance.

Much as I am not in­ter­ested in pol­i­tics, it does not re­quire a politi­cian or rocket sci­en­tist to see that Le­sotho is messed up.

Le­sotho has one tribe and just two mil­lion peo­ple, but one would think there are tribes, be­cause politi­cians are so di­vided and at each other’s throats each and ev­ery day.

God bless my beau­ti­ful moth­er­land and bring an end to all the divi­sion and atroc­i­ties so that our broth­ers and sis­ters can live peace­fully.

Mot­seko Dompe­dro Mochai. in­sti­tu­tion.

The first point of con­cern within the func­tions of the Om­buds­man is the pow­ers vested therein as well as the ex­tent of such pow­ers. It is found that the Om­buds­man has no ju­di­cial pow­ers and can only file re­ports be­fore Par­lia­ment in cases of non-com­pli­ance with his rec­om­men­da­tions. How­ever, this it is not a uni­ver­sal char­ac­ter­is­tic, as there are var­i­ous ju­ris­dic­tions in­clud­ing those in Africa where the Om­buds­man’s bark does def­i­nitely come with a bite.

In Namibia, non com­pli­ance with the Om­buds­man’s rec­om­men­da­tions can be reme­died not only by re­course to Par­lia­ment, but also with the courts of law. In Mau­ri­tius, af­ter be­ing de­liv­ered to a min­is­ter or the prime min­is­ter, a re­port can be tabled to Par­lia­ment or can fur­ther be en­forced in a court of law as a last re­sort.

In Ethiopia, the de­fault­ing gov­ern­ment author­ity or in­di­vid­ual can be sued. In the Gam­bia, or­ders writs and di­rec­tions is­sued by the Om­buds­man have the same force of law as the High Court.

Ar­ti­cle 91(e) of the Namib­ian Con­sti­tu­tion al­lows the Om­buds­man to ap­proach a court of law for an in­ter­dict com­pelling the of­fend­ing party to com­ply with his rec­om­men­da­tion.

In Tan­za­nia, the du­ties of an Om­buds­man are per­formed by the Com­mis­sion for Hu­man Rights and Good Gov­er­nance. Ar­ti­cle 28(3) of the en­abling Act al­lows the Com­mis­sion to bring an ac­tion be­fore any court of law or to rec­om­mend to any com­pe­tent author­ity to bring an ac­tion be­fore court. This shows that an Om­buds­man’s pow­ers are de­ter­mined by

IN re­sponse to “Rakuoane to sue Ma­hao’s wife” ( Le­sotho Times, Oc­to­ber 1, 2015) your rep­u­ta­tion went down the drain the day you de­cided to be­come part of a gov­ern­ment that turns mem­bers of the mil­i­tary against each other, con­vinc­ing them to even kill each other with weapons meant to pro­tect all Ba­sotho.

I don’t see how su­ing a griev­ing widow will help to re­store your rep­u­ta­tion Ntate.

Nthoto Mat­soso.

I PRE­FER go­ing the le­gal route be­cause the courts are more re­li­able as they as­sess the depth of ev­i­dence put be­fore them “Rakuoane to sue Ma­hao’s wife” ( Le­sotho Times, Oc­to­ber 1, 2015).

The com­mis­sion, on the other hand, does not have the time to do the en­abling laws and will take an amend­ment of the laws re­lat­ing to the of­fice in Le­sotho for the Om­buds­man to have an ef­fec­tive ju­di­cial role and pur­sue mat­ters to fi­nal­ity.

On the as­pect of part­ner­ship with sim­i­lar in­sti­tu­tions, it is im­per­a­tive for the Om­buds­man to share in­for­ma­tion with other ju­ris­dic­tions in or­der to find ar­eas for im­prove­ment. Such col­lab­o­ra­tion should also in­clude ac­tive mem­ber­ship in in­ter­na­tional or­ga­ni­za­tions such as the African Om­buds­man and Me­di­a­tors As­so­ci­a­tion (AOMA) or the In­ter­na­tional Om­buds­man In­sti­tute (IOI).

Mem­ber­ship of th­ese or­ga­ni­za­tions should as­sist Le­sotho in co­or­di­nat­ing and or­ga­niz­ing meet­ings with Om­buds­man of­fices from dif­fer­ent coun­tries. Th­ese or­ga­ni­za­tions help with in­ter­ac­tion on the in­ter­na­tional scene and should also ex­tend to part­ner­ing with re­gional bod­ies such as the Sec­re­tar­iat for Hu­man Rights In­sti­tu­tions and the African Com­mis­sion on Hu­man and Peo­ple’s Rights, which could also give the Le­sotho Om­buds­man a greater le­gal voice on the in­ter­na­tional scene. The Om­buds­man con­cept is also pro­moted by th­ese in­sti­tu­tions through re­search, shar­ing of in­for­ma­tion, in­clud­ing on good prac­tice.

The third im­por­tant as­pect that de­ter­mines the ef­fec­tive­ness of the Om­buds­man is an ex­cel­lent pub­lic aware­ness pro­gram which func­tions con­tin­u­ally across the coun­try. Such a pro­gram is im­por­tant in pro­mot­ing aware­ness of the Om­buds­man’s of­fice even in re­mote ar­eas where there is not much ed­u­ca­tion on hu­man rights as well as pro­ce­dural steps to fol­low in pur­su­ing a mat­ter.

HOME Af­fairs Min­is­ter Lekhetho Rakuoane is con­sid­er­ing tak­ing le­gal ac­tion be­cause he be­lieves he is in­no­cent.

He also feels in­dig­nant as ‘Mam­phanya Ma­hao im­pli­cated him in the al­leged plot to kill her hus­band.

Retetse Evaris­tus Ma­sitise.

IT is a sad day when men for­get they are pro­tec­tors of fam­i­lies, women and chil­dren.

What is poignantly ev­i­dent is that there is no hon­our and in­tegrity in the friend­ship this man had with the Ma­hao fam­ily.

You can­not, with good con­science, bully a widow left with young kids that call you un­cle. How heart­less. She has al­ready gone through so much pain, but go ahead sir, kick her while she is down.

That should be a grand tes­ti­mony of your man­hood and a great ex­am­ple for the na­tion. Make our day.

Emma Matela.

In as much as the Le­sotho Om­buds­man al­ready has its own out­reach pro­grams, the point of con­cern is how ef­fec­tive th­ese are. If an en­tire na­tion is to know about the ser­vices of the of­fice, then a rig­or­ous cam­paign should be car­ried out, just. The Om­buds­man’s of­fice in The Gam­bia has an ac­tive out­reach pro­gram which mainly in­volves work­shops across the coun­try.

The par­tic­i­pants in­clude heads of pub­lic in­sti­tu­tions, Chiefs and com­mu­nity lead­ers, rep­re­sen­ta­tives from the army, po­lice and cor­rec­tional ser­vices. All th­ese in­sti­tu­tions take part in ed­u­cat­ing cit­i­zens on the rights they have in cases of dis­sat­is­fac­tory ser­vices from each of­fice and the steps to fol­low in pur­su­ing a com­plaint with the Om­buds­man.

The pur­pose of the pro­gram is to cre­ate aware­ness of the pub­lic re­gard­ing the Om­buds­man’s work, so as to en­hance ser­vice de­liv­ery. Th­ese work­shops are broad­cast on ra­dio pro­grams which are or­ga­nized in var­i­ous re­gions. They in­volve phone-in for­mats where peo­ple call in with either ques­tions, com­ments or sug­ges­tions on how the Om­buds­man could be more ef­fec­tive in de­liv­er­ing its ser­vices.

Ba­sotho are known to be quite opin­ion­ated and vo­cal on ra­dio sta­tions. It is time such pas­sion be put to bet­ter use, not just by the Om­buds­man it­self, but by all other in­sti­tu­tions con­duct­ing out­reach pro­grams for the ben­e­fit of the pub­lic. An in­clu­sion of the pub­lic in mak­ing changes in pub­lic in­sti­tu­tions in Le­sotho would be a gi­ant leap for our con­sti­tu­tional democ­racy in gen­eral.

Hla­soa Mo­lapo. IN re­sponse to “Rakuoane to sue Ma­hao’s wife” ( Le­sotho Times, Oc­to­ber 1, 2015) how on earth can Home Af­fairs Min­is­ter Lekhetho Rakuoane sue Lieu­tenant-gen­eral Maa­parankoe Ma­hao’s wife?

He should be brave enough to go to the SADC Com­mis­sion of In­quiry and give his side of the story.

The min­is­ter surely has some­thing to an­swer for.

How can ‘Mam­phanya Ma­hao men­tion his name of all the peo­ple in Le­sotho?

In­stead of a law­suit, he should set the record straight on his in­volve­ment in this is­sue.

Ob­server.

THE case of Dan­ish busi­ness­man, Pe­ter Fred­erik­sen, who was ar- rested for sur­gi­cally re­mov­ing and freez­ing the gen­i­tals of 21 women should be a wakeup call for all women in Le­sotho and the de­vel­op­ing world “‘Gen­i­tal mutilator’ to ap­ply for bail” ( Le­sotho Times, Oc­to­ber 1, 2015).

A lot of peo­ple are abused in Africa but the per­pe­tra­tors get away with it.

This an­i­mal was able to de­stroy the lives of at least 21 women and would have con­tin­ued had it not been for the tip off to the po­lice.

Only God knows the num­ber of peo­ple he maimed and killed.

The po­lice and other law en­force­ment agen­cies need to set up vic­tim-friendly de­part­ments which en­cour­age peo­ple who have been abused to speak out.

Kennedy, Ma­sowe.

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