250312: News Makers of the year Public Protector Thuli Madonsela and President of the ANC Youth League Julius Malema pose with their News Maker of year Trophy at the 2012 National Press Club award ceremony held in Pretoria Yesterday. Picture:Paballo Thekiso

Durban - Public protectors from across Africa were doing an excellent job in their fight against human rights abuses and corruption.

This was the sentiment expressed by South African public protector Thuli Madonsela, when she welcomed ombudsman officers from various African countries to Durban. They are in the city to attend the African Ombudsman Research Centre training course at the University of KwaZulu-Natal.

The five-day training course, which starts today, is being conducted by the university’s faculty of law, and is also supported by the Queen Margaret University in Britain and Germany’s Gesellschaft fur Internationale Zusammenarbeit.

“These ombudsmen have been doing a good job in dealing with issues that obstruct service delivery and result in human rights abuses. Some of them such as ours, Namibia and Uganda have a clear mandate in dealing with corruption. Ugandan ombudsmen even have a mandate to prosecute corruption cases,” said Madonsela.

She said that although she did not have the power to prosecute, she was happy with the powers given to her.

Too much power corrupts. I have enough power to deal with grievances presented to my office. Our key mandate is to spark public debate and we have seen public debate emanating from the issues that we have investigated. People have been prosecuted due to our findings,” she said.

She said the African Ombudsman Research Centre was a brainchild of former public protector Selby Baqwa, and it was aimed at uniting all the continent’s ombudsmen.

Gesellschaft fur Internationale Zusammenarbeit representative, Angela Paul, said

: “Ombudsmen have a role to play in strengthening the government.” - The Mercury