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African government urged to increase funding to ombudsman offices

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By DAVID MUCHUI
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The African Ombudsman and Mediators Association (AOMA) has called for strengthening of the ombudsman offices in the continent to enhance transparency and accountability.

Ombudsmen are charged with the mandate to, among other things, investigate individuals’ complaints against companies or organisations, especially public authorities.

They can investigate any conduct in state affairs or omission in public administration in any sphere of government, especially complaints of abuse of power, unfair treatment, manifest injustice or unresponsive official conduct.

Speaking after being elected AOMA secretary general at the just-ended sixth general assembly in Kigali, Rwanda, Ms Florence Kajuju, who is also the chairperson of the Commission on Administrative Justice (CAJ) said the association was keen on expanding its presence in all African countries.

Currently, 40 African countries have the ombudsman or public protector offices, which are largely underfunded.

“We will be engaging the countries that are yet to establish the ombudsman office to facilitate their establishment. The ombudsman plays a vital role in governance by defending the vulnerable and ensuring transparency and accountability in service delivery,” said Ms Kajuju after her election on Friday.

While citing underfunding as a major hiccup to the operations of the ombudsman, the AOMA secretary general said they will engage heads of state to ensure the offices are empowered to perform effectively.

Ms Kajuju has been pushing for increased resource allocation for the CAJ to reach more Kenyans.

The association is looking into ways of promoting the rule of law and respect of principles of good governance.

Ms Busisiwe Mkhwebane, the public protector of South Africa, was elected president while Ms Sarah Sereme of Burkina Faso and Mr Ahmed Abuzeid of Sudan became the first and second vice president respectively.

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