RUNDU - The Popular Democratic Movement (PDM) has called on the Judicial Service Commission (JSC) of Namibia to readvertise the soon-to-be-vacant position of the ombudsman.
Retiring Ombudsman John Walters has in the meantime been appointed for a period of two months from 1 August 2021 to 30 September 2021 as acting ombudsman after the cancellation of the interviews for the position. The commission shortlisted National Council secretary Tousy Namiseb, Fishcor acting CEO Ruth Herunga and Basilius Dyakugha, who is a chief legal officer at Law Reform and Development Commission, for the vacancy.
The JSC resolved to conduct public interviews, which includes live streaming of the proceedings after the Affirmative Repositioning (AR) called on the JSC to consider having public interviews following the advertisement of the vacancy in May.
The shortlisted three candidates (only four people applied) were due to be interviewed last week but the interviews were postponed because one of the candidates was hospitalised.
According to the PDM’s justice shadow minister Thimotheus Shihumbu, the party has received numerous requests from members of the public who are concerned about the way in which the process of the appointment of the next ombudsman has been conducted.
“The test of time has vindicated our belief that transformation is still wanting and has not taken root in our society in the need to reform the processes involved in the search for judicial officials to serve in some of our autonomous state institutions including the Office of the Ombudsman of Namibia,” he said.
“The PDM is further cognisant of the constitutional legal framework as provided for in the Namibia constitution chapter 10 (Article 90 read with sections 1 and 2) as it relates to the manner in which the ombudsman is to be appointed.
Therefore, such intended due processes of shortlisting candidates as prescribed by the provisions of the JSC should be complied with.” Shihumbu stated that as a result, the PDM supports the Namibian people in their request to be given an adequate opportunity to satisfy themselves whether the character and or qualifications of any candidate aspiring to take up the office of the ombudsman meets the required standards.
Recently, the Institute for Public Policy Research (IPPR) also said the ombudsman vacancy should be readvertised to give the public a variety of choices.
IPPR’s executive director, Graham Hopwood, told The Namibian, “in view of the low number of applicants, I think the recruitment process should be restarted. “A pool of four applicants, of which only three are to be interviewed, is just not enough to be able to ensure the person appointed has all the requisite qualities needed for the post,” Hopwood said.
Shihumbu stated that PDM is not asking the commission to relinquish the powers vested in it by the relevant legislation, or that the commission should not function independently or that it must subject itself to the direction or control of any person or authority, rather, they are merely reminding the commission that the will of the people through public participation should reign supreme.
“There is absolutely nothing under the law that prohibits the commission from readvertising the position of the ombudsman where a shadow of doubt exists or where there is a general public outcry that the existing vacancy did not receive enough applications from potential candidates,” he said.