You have news tips, feel free to contact us via email

Implementing Ombudsman’s recommendations delayed by consultations, says justice minister

By: Justicia Shipena
Justice minister Yvonne Dausab says that the delay in the implementation of recommendations contained in the Ombudsman’s report is due to consultations, changes in leadership, and financial implications.
Dausab said this in the National Assembly last week while responding to questions by PDM member of parliament Raymond Diergaardt on the matter.
On 6 October, Ombudsman Basilius Dyakugha submitted his office’s annual report for 2021/22 to the Speaker of the national assembly, Peter Katjavivi. The annual report contains the office’s major activities for the period under review.
“The delays were largely caused by the continuing consultations, change in leadership, the impact of Covid-19 on many Government activities, and consideration of financial implications,” said Dausab.
Dausab added that the ministry recognises the importance of the office and its work.
“And we are doing what we can to achieve the recommendation of the committee, including the constitutional issues raised therein, and commit to seeing it through, in the most apposite format, to ensure the principle of ensuring the office does its work efficiently,” she said.
Diergaardt had questioned what progress can the minister report regarding the recommendations contained in the report on the Ombudsman.
However, Dausab said paragraph 6.9 of the Parliamentary Standing Committee on Constitutional and Legal Affairs Report on Oversight of the High Court in Oshakati, Magistrate’s Courts and Regional offices of the Electoral Commission and Ombudsman and Osire Refugee Settlement in the Oshana, Omusati and Otjozondjupa Regions recommended that the Office of the Prime Minister and the Ministry of Justice table a bill in Parliament to review and amend the Ombudsman Act, 1990 (Act No. 7 of 1990).
“This review and amendment are proposed to provide for more powers and punitive measures for non-compliance with any notice to appear before the Ombudsman in relation to an investigation or inquiry or any person who refuses to cooperate, strengthen the autonomy of the Ombudsman, provide for the appointment of an Executive Director and staff, and own budget vote.”
Dausab said the recommendations are reflected under different clauses of the bill which establishes the Office of the Ombudsman provides for the appointment of the executive director adding that it provides for the authority of the Ombudsman to take action on the outcome of investigations and inquiries.
She said the proposed amendments also have language, textual and constitutional implications, and therefore required careful consideration and consultation.
In addition, she stressed that the cost of setting up the office also has serious financial implications that must be considered.
“The current economic conditions are challenging, making it difficult to financially commit to the extrication of the office from justice, but the principle is supported and will be actualised at the appropriate time. This is particularly so, given that at no point has the Ombudsman alleged that there was interference with their mandate rather than that the amount allocated is not sufficient to carry out their work, a challenge we all face collectively. A challenge we recognise and make an effort to address as an ongoing concern.”
She also touches on the Ombudsman bill.
“The current version of the bill has gone through numerous rounds of deliberation at cabinet and I can confirm that the bill has been deliberated on at the Cabinet Committee on Legislation (CCL) at least twice,” said Dausab in the National Assembly.
In this vein, she said the bill is scheduled for deliberation at the CCL before it is submitted back to cabinet for final clearance.
“Once this process is finalised the bill will be submitted to the Legislative Drafters for drafting, clearance, and thereafter certification by the Attorney General, and finally tabling in the National Assembly, hopefully in the seventh session of the National Assembly in 2023.”
The Ombudmans latest annual report states that the Ombudsman Act, (Act No. 7 of 1990) is outdated and needs a complete review.
In 2015 the Ombudsman appointed a consultant to draft amendments to the Act. The suggested amendments were too many, and as a result, it was decided to draft a new bill for the Ombudsman.
“The bill was drafted and is now with the Ministry of Justice to follow through with the legislative process before it can be tabled in the National Assembly, said the report. The Ombudsman said speedy adoption of the cill will not only strengthen the mandate and powers of the Ombudsman but will also give expression to the independence of the Ombudsman.
Once passed, Dausab said the bill will have significant implications for the functioning and structure of the Office of the Ombudsman.
Dausab stated that the chief among those will be the complete independence of the office and its total separation from the Justice ministry, which includes a separate financial vote.

Justicia Shipena

Related Posts

Read Also ... x