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History of Ombudsman Institution
Many countries have a national institution similar to that of the Office of the Ombudsman – although called by different names, amongst others,Investigator General, Mediator; Commissioner, Public Protector e.t.c. – which are empowered by legislation to assist in establishing and maintaining efficient and proper public administration.
The idea of the office of Ombudsman originated in Sweden, but did not spread to other countries until the 20th century, when it was adopted in other Scandinavian countries. In the early 1960’s, various Commonwealth and other, mainly European countries, established such an office.

Background of Ombudsman office in Malawi
With the founding of democracy in Malawi in 1994 , it was thought wise that in Malawi we should have Office of the Ombudsman that will protect and consolidate the priciples of democratic governance in as far as adminstrative justice is concerned.

The Office of the Ombudsman in Malawi
The Office of Ombudsman (OoO) is an independent Public Institution established by the Constitution of the Republic of Malawi 1994 under Section 120 which provides that: There shall be a public office known as the office of the Ombudsman which shall have such powers, functions and responsibilities as are conferred upon that office by this Constitution and any other law.This provision is complimented by the Ombudsman Act No. 10 of 1996.The Office became operational in 1995 when the first Ombudsman was appointed. Mrs M C. Mwangonde is the fourth Ombudsman;

1995- 1998          Honourable Makoza Chirwa
1999-2009           Honourable Enock Chibwana
2010-2015           Justice Tujilane Chizumila (Rtd)
2015- present       Hon Martha Chizuma Mwangonde

Appointment of the Ombudsman
According to Section 122(1) of the Constitution of the Republic of Malawi, nominations for appointment of the Ombudsman shall be received from the public by way of a public advertisement placed by the Clerk to the National Assembly and the successful candidate shall be appointed by the Public Appointments Committee in accordance with the requirements of this Section. The Ombudsman is required to be a Malawian citizen who is suitably qualified and experienced and has exhibited a reputation for honesty and integrity.

Powers of the Ombudsman
The Ombudsman has the following powers under section 124 (a) of the Constitution of the Republic of Malawi:

  • Determine nature and extent of an investigation.
  • Summon any person connected to any investigation.
  • Require immediate disclosure of information and production of documents of any kind.
  • To ask for systematic investigations into any public office where there is suspicion or allegation of administrative maladministration.
  • Question any person from any government office or arm, connected to an investigation.
  • Administer an oath or take an affirmation from any person who appears before him/her.
  • Institute a contempt proceedings before Court against noncompliance with her invastigative powers.
  • To recommend corrective action.

All arms of Government administration are subject to investigations by the Ombudsman, unless otherwise and Section 5 of the Ombudsman Act No 10 of 1996 gives the Ombudsman in Malawi powers to investigate the entire government machinery.

The Ombudsman is accountable to Parliament and is expected to report each year on his/her activities and the performance of his/her functions to the National Assembly and send a copy of such to the Cabinet and any other relevant organ of Government. The report includes a record of all complaints and applications to the office of Ombudsman, a record of the exercise of powers in relation to applications, of the remedies afforded to applicants in respect of grievances and shall also include a record of the general recommendations of the Ombudsman in respect of grievances.