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Johannesburg - Ombuds are the conscience of those in power, Public Protector Thuli Madonsela said on Tuesday.
She said their role was to listen to the people, refer complaints back to those in power, and allow those in power to legitimise their practises.
Madonsela was speaking at the opening of the African Ombuds and Mediators Association (AOMA) summit in Kempton Park on the East Rand.
She was speaking in her capacity as chairwoman of the African Ombuds Research Centre and AOMA executive secretary.
The event, held under the banner of “Strengthening good governance in Africa through the role of the ombudsman,” is being attended by dozens of delegates from about 30 African countries.
Also attending are several African Union delegates. The AU and the AOMA work together and have in previous years signed a memorandum of understanding.
Watchdog institutions and members of some political parties, including Inkatha Freedom Party leader Mangosuthu Buthelezi, were among those attending the event on Tuesday.
“We are gathered here through our fate,” said Madonsela.
“Your presence at this summit is attributed to your commitment to the continent as it tries to strengthen itself.”
Africa was moving away from being seen as a land of hunger, war, instability, greed and plundering of resources.
Chief Justice Mogoeng Mogoeng was expected to deliver the main address. - Sapa