“Its integrity and independence is compromised and it will never be a protector of human rights.”
Leader of Opposition Duma Boko has blasted the process used to appoint the Ombudsman, saying President Ian Khama imposed a candidate for the office on him.
In his barbed critique of the office of the Ombudsman which he said was “bastardised” from Scandinavian models by government, Boko said its integrity and independence was compromised and will never be a protector of human rights.
The opposition umbrella president who was speaking in parliament last week was critical of the consultation process for Ombudsman appointments. “What does the President of this Republic who is under obligation to consult with the Leader of the Opposition do? He writes a letter and tells the Leader of the Opposition, I intend to appoint this individual and here is his Curriculum Vitae (CV). The Leader of the Opposition writes back and says, this is not consultation. You need to give me a sense of how many individuals were eligible for appointment to this position. Give me an indication of their competencies and qualifications so that it can become clear to me why this particular individual commends himself, if he does, for appointment to the Office of Ombudsman. The President writes back and says this is a normal promotion within the civil service. And I said to him look, it means you have confined your search for an Ombudsman to the civil service. You have not opened the search to cover the entire nation to find the most competent candidate. That is the first thing but even within the limited space of the civil service in which you operated, who else was eligible? The next thing, there is an appointment,” Boko explained.
Last week Minister Eric Molale told parliament that the Ombudsman Act will be ammended to confer it with a human rights function, a comment which drew the criticism of Boko who demanded time lines for the amendment of the act. He also said such an amendment should not just be rubber-stamped by BDP MPs without any serious consideration of its full importances and implications as that would be make it weak.
“So, we hope that in this purported legislation that is coming, you will present to us something that is sensible, something that will give this institution some sense of urgency and requisite powers to deal with, not just administrative impropriety on the part of Government and a serious violations of people’s fundamental rights in terms of our Constitution,” Boko said.
Responding to questions from this publication on this issue, BDP Secretary General Botsalo Ntuane said those who perceive the Ombudsman as deficient should introduce amendments to the relevant act. “That’s why they are in parliament. They are not there to moan and complain all day long but to initiate legislation and bring about changes they deem necessary,” he said.