Public Protector, Advocate Busisiwe Mkhwebane, has been appointed the First Vice President of the African Ombudsman and Mediators Association (AOMA).
The appointment was made on Thursday during the organisation’s executive committee meeting in Bujumbura, Burundi.
AOMA is a continental body of 40 Public Protector-type institutions and an additional four sectoral Ombudsman institutions, including the South African Military Ombud and the Western Cape Police Ombudsman. It exists to advance the ideals of good governance and human rights in Africa by supporting and protecting the independence and development of Ombudsman institutions in the continent.
“Mkhwebane’s appointment was one of three made at the committee’s meeting currently underway in the Burundian capital. The host country’s Ombudsman, Edouard Nduwimana, takes over as President while his counterpart from Cote d’Ivoire, Adama Toungara, will serve as the Second Vice President,” the Public Protector’s office said in a statement.
The reconfiguration of the AOMA’s office-bearers follows the appointment of Fozia Amin, who has been the body’s president since 2014, to political office as Minister of Tourism and Culture of Ethiopia, where she has also been serving as Ombudsman.
“In terms of the AOMA constitution, an office-bearer vacancy may be filled by the executive committee from amongst the committee’s members for the remainder of the term until the next General Assembly.
“The new appointees will serve until November 2018 when the next Assembly – to be hosted by Rwanda – elects new office-bearers,” the statement reads.
As the First Vice President, Mkhwebane will, in the absence of the President, preside over all meetings of AOMA, be in charge of the general supervision of the affairs and operations of the association, act as its spokesperson, and perform other duties, as may be required by the committee.
“I am humbled by the faith that my colleagues in the executive committee have shown in me by appointing me to this position of responsibility.
“The institution of the Ombudsman has a critical role to play in Africa regarding the realisation of the African Union’s Agenda 2063 in relation to entrenching a culture of clean governance and promoting the values of peace and security, the upholding of human rights and respect for the rule of law across the continent,” she said.
Mkhwebane is a member of the committee by virtue of her position as the board chairperson of AOMA’s research and training agency, the African Ombudsman Research Centre, which is based at the University of KwaZulu-Natal in Durban.
This is not the first time a South African is entrusted with a leadership position in AOMA. Mkhwebane served as the body’s Executive Secretary for two successive terms, ending 2014.