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Ombudsman shames govt ministries

NAIROBI, Kenya, Mar 19 – The Ministries of Lands and Labour have been named as the worst in responding to public complaints by the Office of the Ombudsman.

Chairman James Simani on Thursday accused the two ministries of failing to give his office the support it needs to ensure public sector reforms and efficient delivery of public services.

“They don’t respond on a timely basis on the letters we send to them and consequently the complainants are faced without redress,” he said. “We have been forced to include the two (ministries) in our list of shame.”

Ambassador Simani spoke while releasing two quarterly reports for June to December last year. He singled out the Departments of Defence, Pensions and the Teachers Service Commission as government arms that had been vigilant in responding to lodged grievances.

A total of 1,188 cases against various government offices were reported in the six months. The Police Department, Nairobi City Council and State Corporations had the highest number of cases. The Judiciary also recorded considerable number of complaints especially on pending cases but Amb Simani said the committee had received an assurance from the Chief Justice that reforms in the justice system were on the way.

“Most of the complaints received include cases of delays by ministries to respond to inquiries, corruption especially in the police force and injustice particularly in labour issues such as dismissals,” he said.

The Public Complaints Standing Committee (PCSC) was launched in August last year and mandated to receive complaints from the public and follow up with the relevant government offices. It is expected to make quarterly reports with administrative and legal recommendations to the Office of the President.

The committee however faces the challenges of lack of cooperation from various government offices. It is also lacking in institutional capacity and insufficient funding. In the last budget the committee got Sh92 million. PCSC Executive Director Kenneth Mwige has asked for at least Sh300 million.

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“This is money we need to set an Information Technology infrastructure so that Kenyans can reach us easily through email, SMS and the website. We need more professionals and more the office space,” he said.


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