The Office of the Ombudsman has received 2 890 complaints countrywide from the public in 2021, and the majority of these cases are from the Oshana region, which records 378 complaints.
Basilius Dyakugha, the recently appointed Ombudsman, emphasised mediation and using the influence of the office to enforce justice in the country.
He said this during a courtesy visit to the regional governors in northern Namibia.
“I always emphasise mediation as my way of conducting business, which is engaging the complainant and the complainee, and finding possible solutions to some of the pertaining challenges our people are facing,” said Dyakugha.
He also emphasised he “didn’t come to change things” but rather build on the constitutional mandate to carry on his duties.
“The Ombudsman has tremendous power in terms of influence, and influence is really the core issue here. So, I will pursue my way of dealing with things by engaging those who are in other authorities to implement my resolution,” he said.
As part of his visits to all regions in the north, Dyakugha aimed to acquaint himself with issues happening in those regions as well as engage regional leaders on how to tackle some of the pertinent matters in their regions.
“Well, people have higher expectations, but this is a constitutional office and a parliamentary legislation that describes how I should conduct my work – and I will follow those guidelines to enforce justice,” he added.
Asked how many cases are resolved yet, Dyakugha said the majority of the cases from last year are resolved, although he did not provide the exact statistics.
Expand office to all regions
Dyakugha is of the stance that many people, especially in rural areas, do not understand the purposes of the Ombudsman, and they do not know his office can legally represent them.
Therefore, he aims to embark on expanding the services of his office to all regions.
“We want to branch out to all 14 regions; we only have five offices countrywide, which is really not a good picture – 32 years after independence. That is why people do not know that the office of the Ombudsman represents the public. It is because we are not visible in their regions,” he promised, further assuring the work of the Ombudsman yields results.
Supporting the same sentiments, the deputy director responsible for investigations in the office of the Ombudsman, Timothy Shangadi, said many citizens believe the justice system is failing them because they cannot afford lawyers.
“They do not know that there is the office of the Ombudsman that can help them for free. It is an alternative justice system that is cheaper and very convenient. I urge the public to always approach us with their concerns. Even via text message, email or alternatively visit our offices,” he explained.
Although the office of the Ombudsman is an independent institution, Dyakugha complained it has been operating as a directorate in the Ministry of Justice.
“And that is our challenge because it limits and conflicts the mandate – because now, we have to rely on the ministry to carry our duties,” said Dyakugha.
He added, “There is no law that links the office of the Ombudsman to the ministry. It was just a gentlemen’s arrangement. The separation of power is clear; the ministry of justice is the executive body and the judiciary is another branch of government, but the Ombudsman has a key position established to play the role of the watchdog – to check and balance – and that’s very clear.”