By Maxwell Zulu (BAEd, LLB, Dip AEd): Importance of the Office of the Investigator General in the control of administrative action
Until the early 1970s, Zambia did not have the office of the Ombudsman or Investigator General. In 1972 when cases of corruption and abuse of power were becoming more rampant, Dr Kenneth Kaunda the republican president then expressed a wish and desire to set up an institution to fight these vices. Thus this marked the birth of the Office of the Investigator General which is also known as the Commission of Investigations or the Ombudsman. This office, among other things, was mandated to supervise the work of the executive by checking on its maladministration . Sad though, the Office of the Investigator General can be said to be very little heard about its activities and achievements and yet this is a very important institution in Zambia. Although it is a government wing which passionately wants to fight corruption in the country it has been neglected. Suffice to mention, the essay aims, therefore, to discuss the importance of this Office in the control of administrative action, in an attempt to foster protection of the individual’s rights in the state-individual relations with reference to the statutes and other relevant authorities.
Importance of the Office of the Investigator General in the control of administrative action
There are three ways in administrative law that deal with maladministration, namely through commencement of Judicial Review Proceedings under Order 53 of the Rules of the Supreme Court, the Tribunal under Inquiries Act and finally laying a complaint to the Investigator General. The latter is very important in the attainment of administrative justice. This office is established by the Constitution of Zambia. Article 90(1) of the Constitution of Zambia Act stipulates that:
“There shall be an Investigator General of the Republic who shall be appointed by the President in consultation with the Judicial Service Commission and shall be the Chairman of the Commission for Investigations.”
Its mandate is founded under Cap 39 of the Commission for Investigations Act. In a democracy such as Zambia, administrative law is the most important vehicle for administrative justice. It is for this reason that the creation of the Office of Investigator General is important to ensure that justice is carried out when individual’s rights have been infringed. The importance of this office is that it is cheap and there are no formalities required. For instance, there is no need for a complainant to engage a lawyer to handle his case. Most importantly, the establishment of this wing is justified:
as an instrument of human rights;
as a unique mechanism of democratic control over bureaucracy; •
as a formal avenue for redress of grievance against administrative wrongdoing; and •
as an instrument of tackling bureaucratic pathologies.
The Commission contributes significantly to the administrative accountability. Through accessible and simple complaint heading procedures, the Investigator General serves as the people’s protector against errors or abuse by public officials at minimum cost and delay as earlier alluded to. Although there are no powers to enforce the Commission’s recommendation and elsewhere, it has nonetheless persuasive authority to move the executive to take action being a respectable institution in the country. The impact of the Office of the Investigator General was summed up by Professor Geoffrey Salver when he observed:
“A good Ombudsman will reduce complacency, verging towards arrogance, which is a characteristic vice of bureaucracies and he will also remove many of the chips on shoulders which tend to display in their dealing with government.”
Under Part III of the Commission for Investigations Act, Cap 39 Section 8, the Commission has powers and duties to investigate persons in the public service, members in the service of a...
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