Malawi 1994 Constitution (reviewed 2017)

Table of Contents


120. The office of the Ombudsman

There shall be a public office known as the office of the Ombudsman which shall have such powers, functions and responsibilities as are conferred upon that office by this Constitution and any other law.

121. Independence of the Ombudsman

In the exercise of his or her powers, functions and duties the Ombudsman shall be completely independent of the interference or direction of any other person or authority, but shall otherwise be answerable to Parliament.

122. Appointment of Ombudsman

  1. Nominations for appointment to the office of Ombudsman shall be received from the public by way of a public advertisement placed by the Clerk to the National Assembly and the successful candidate shall be appointed by the Public Appointments Committee in accordance with the requirements of this section.
  2. The person appointed to the office of Ombudsman shall—
    1. have sufficient knowledge of the law;
    2. be publicly regarded as a person who can make impartial judgments;
    3. have sufficient knowledge of the workings of Government;
    4. not have had any criminal convictions and not have been a bankrupt;
    5. be otherwise competent and capable of performing the duties of his or her office;
    6. not be the President, Vice-President, a Minister or Deputy Minister, a serving public officer in any public office other than that of Ombudsman or a member of Parliament; and
    7. not hold any other public office unless otherwise provided for in this Constitution.

123. Functions and powers

  1. The office of the Ombudsman may investigate any and all cases where it is alleged that a person has suffered injustice and it does not appear that there is any remedy reasonably available by way of proceedings in a court or by way of appeal from a court or where there is no other practicable remedy.
  2. Notwithstanding subsection (1), the powers of the office of the Ombudsman under this section shall not oust the jurisdiction of the courts and the decisions and exercise of powers by the Ombudsman shall be reviewable by the High Court on the application of any person with sufficient interest in a case the Ombudsman has determined.

124. Powers of investigation

The Ombudsman shall have full powers to—

  1. subpoena the attendance of any person who the Ombudsman reasonably believes to be connected with any investigation being undertaken by that office;
  2. require the immediate disclosure of information and the production of documents of any kind, from any public body;
  3. question any person who the Ombudsman reasonably believes to be connected with an investigation that is being undertaken by that office; and
  4. initiate contempt proceedings before the High Court against any person or authority in connexion with non-compliance with the powers conferred in this section.

125. Priviledges and immunities of the Ombudsman

A person holding the office of Ombudsman shall—

  1. be provided with the necessary resources to discharge the functions of that office;
  2. be entitled to the fullest cooperation of any person or authority of whom he or she requests assistance in connexion with the duties of that office;
  3. enjoy, with respect to his or her official functions, similar protection and privileges in so far as they are appropriate as are enjoyed by members of Parliament; and
  4. be paid a salary to be charged to the Consolidated Fund and which shall not be reduced without the consent of the office holder.

126. Remedies

Where the investigations of the Ombudsman reveal sufficient evidence to satisfy him or her that an injustice has been done, the Ombudsman shall—

  1. direct that appropriate administrative action be taken to redress the grievance;
  2. cause the appropriate authority to ensure that there are, in future, reasonably practicable remedies to redress a grievance; and
  3. refer a case to the Director of Public Prosecutions with a recommendation for prosecution, and, in the event of a refusal by the Director of Public Prosecutions to proceed with the case, the Ombudsman shall have the power to require reasons for the refusal.

127. Reports of the Ombudsman

The Ombudsman shall lay, each year, before the National Assembly a report which shall include a record of all complaints and applications to the office of Ombudsman, a record of the exercise of powers in relation to applications, of the remedies afforded to applicants in respect of grievances and shall also include a record of the general recommendations of the Ombudsman in respect of grievances.

128. Removal from office

  1. A person appointed to the office of Ombudsman shall serve a term of not more than five years, provided that the Public Appointments Committee may appoint that person for such further terms of five years as it considers appropriate unless that Committee sooner terminates that appointment in accordance with this section.
  2. A person appointed to the office of Ombudsman shall not be removed by the Public Appointments Committee, except—
    1. in such circumstances where had that person not been Ombudsman, that person would have been disqualified from being appointed;
    2. for gross misconduct; or
    3. on reaching the age of sixty-five years.