Public protector Busisiwe Mkhwebane. Picture: ESA ALEXANDER
Public protector Busisiwe Mkhwebane. Picture: ESA ALEXANDER

Public Protector Busisiwe Mkhwebane has been appointed first vice-president of the African Ombudsman and Mediators Association (AOMA) by the body’s executive committee in Bujumbura‚ Rwanda.

The association 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.

The goals of the association are to advance the ideals of good governance and human rights in Africa by supporting and protecting the independence and development of ombudsman institutions on the continent.

Mkhwebane’s appointment was one of three made by the committee. Host country ombudsman Edouard Nduwimana takes over as president, while his counterpart from the Ivory Coast‚ Adama Toungara‚ will serve as the second vice-president.

The reconfiguration of the African Ombudsman and Mediators Association’s office-bearer positions follows the announcement of a new role for Fozia Amin‚ who has been the body’s president since 2014. She has been appointed as minister of tourism and culture in Ethiopia‚ where she had been serving as ombudsman.

The new appointees will serve until November 2018 when the next assembly — to be hosted by Rwanda — elects new office-bearers.

As the first vice-president‚ Mkhwebane will‚ in the absence of the president‚ preside over all the association’s meetings‚ be in charge of the general supervision of the association’s affairs and operations‚ 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‚" Mkhwebane said.

She said this was not the first time SA was entrusted with a leadership position in the African Ombudsman and Mediators Association. Former public protector Thuli Madonsela served as the body’s executive secretary for two successive terms‚ ending in 2014.