International Ombudsman Institute (IOI) president Peter Tyndall has re-iterated the push for government to account to its citizens, saying the way countries make use of ombudspersons mirrors whether democracy has matured or stunted.
The Ombudsman of Ireland made the remarks in Lilongwe during the opening of a five-day African regional training on the role of the Ombudsman institutions.
He argued that the performance of public protectors reflects how firm the institutions hold their governments to account for maladministration and social injustices.
“Old habits die hard. In some instances, the offices of the Ombudsman can hold a lens up to the practices of the public sector to ensure that the people are getting the public services they deserve,” said Tyndall.
Recently, Ombudsman Martha Chizuma urged Malawians to migrate from a “strange culture of suffering in silence amid impunity”.
She said this attitude has retarded the country’s socio-economic development for decades, with some citizens feeling democracy is bad.
“But with it [democracy] comes some responsibility which, unfortunately, only a few of our governments choose to embrace. My raw assessment is that we [Malawians] don’t view public service as a right, but rather a favour. That’s why the tendency of maladministration still prevails,” she said.
In her remarks during the opening of the conference, Chizuma said issues of transparency and accountability make most administrations uncomfortable.
“But so long as we are operating within the law, we should feel emboldened to keep on doing our work because in many cases, we are the only hope for the majority of people in our respective countries,” she said.
Justice and Constitutional Affairs Minister Samuel Tembenu challenged the ombudspersons to “advise citizens and ensure policy holders are accountable and transparent”.