KEETMANSHOOP – Groundwork laid by outgoing Ombudsman, advocate John Walters, paid off last week when the just-completed Office of the Ombudsman was inaugurated in Keetmanshoop.
Walters explained here that regional offices such as this one were established to provide easy access to the Ombudsman, and to enable even the most disadvantaged individuals or communities to receive the services they are entitled to. “Your complaints are at the heart of what we do since we always aim to be independent, impartial and fair, as well as to be accessible to all those who seek our assistance, ‘’ he added.
//Kharas governor Aletha Frederick said a sound system of administrative justice is an indicator of democratic governance and the cornerstone of administrative reforms.
“This is because it ensures a sound administrative framework, and accountable and fair administrative action and procedures,’’ she noted.
The regional political head said the new facility will significantly enhance and foster the effective facilitation of the administration of the Office of the Ombudsman.
“Historically, the Ombudsman was established as part of the parliamentary oversight mechanism to supervise the administrative activities of the executive,’’ the governor informed those present.
Frederick added that the importance of an Ombudsman in a democratic society is based on the fact that it is independent of the executive branch of power, and therefore acts as one of the checks and balances in a democratic system.
“Therefore, the role of the Ombudsman in governance in contemporary society cannot be refuted as it is one of the institutions
that promotes good governance and constitutionalism,’’ she said.
In her statement, the Ministry of Justice’s executive director (ED) Gladice Pickering urged residents in Keetmanshoop and the //Kharas region as a whole to make proper use of the services offered by the office.
“I hereby want to urge you to take note that unless you know and understand your basic and fundamental human rights, it will be difficult for you to be assertive about it,’’ she added.
The ED reminded the audience that it is every person’s duty to acquaint him/herself with these rights, as they should never be underestimated.
“If there is a violation in terms of the protection, fulfillment and promotion of your human rights, it can lead to instability in our country, where peace and stability comes at a very high price,’’ she warned. Pickering further reasoned that democracy is a value closely linked to civic participation in the processes of transparency, accountability, equity, inclusion, efficiency and effectiveness.
Keetmanshoop mayor Maree Smit said since Keetmanshoop, like any other town in Namibia, has its own issues and social discrepancies, it will be to the advantage of its citizens to have access to the Ombudsman’s office to table their concerns.
The institution has the duty to investigate complaints concerning fundamental human rights and freedoms, as well as the abuse of power and discourteous treatment.
“The Ombudsman has the duty and powers to take appropriate and remedial action to solve such issues when arising,’’ she observed.
Current Ombudsman Walters will officially retire from duty on 31 July 2021.