n Journal of Public Administration - The ombudsman institutions in the procurement of legal responsibilities in the Commonwealth : an overview of Canada, South Africa and Uganda

Special issue 1
  • ISSN : 0036-0767



As various reviews on the functioning of a modern administrative state continue to highlight the persistent maladies of bureaucratism in the public sector realm. The establishment of ombudsman institutions, the world over, is given credence by the need to foster improved performance in public administration and enhance governmental accountability to the public in ways that nurture the ideals of good governance. This paper examines the role of Ombudsman institutions in the procurement of legal responsibilities and the promotion of good governance, elsewhere in the Commonwealth, but with particular case reference to Canada, South Africa and Uganda. It analyses compelling literature on the Ombudsman institutions' orientation, matters of regulatory and jurisdictional type, appointment. It also interrogates whether there is a standard that guides Ombudsman offices across. It is argued that, despite the varying legislative and jurisdictional mandates, there are common denominators that underpin Ombudsman institutions, punctuated by similar systemic weaknesses. It is further argued that, however thorough, independent and threatening the Ombudsman institution can be, it can never prevent wrongs from public agencies unless there is an adaptive political culture and administrative system that cherishes goodwill. The Ombudsman can thus, only thrive under a democratic dispensation with vibrant civic competence.

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