Call to resolve challenges at Office of Military Ombud

Monday, March 4, 2024

The Joint Standing Committee on Defence has urged the Department of Defence and Military Veterans and the Office of the Military Ombud, to find workable solutions to the Ombud’s current challenges in spending its goods and services budget.

The committee received a mid-term report for the 2023/24 financial year (1 April to 30 September 2023).

“While the committee welcomed the progress in implementing the Ombud’s mandate, it highlighted that the current process where the Ombud can only procure goods and services through the department, limits its ability to properly function and spend its budget.

“The committee acknowledged that the Minister of the Defence and Military Veterans has given assurances that the matter is under consideration. Furthermore, the committee hopes the National Treasury’s review of the Ombud office’s capacity to ensure it is adequately resourced will bear positive fruit,” said the Committee in a statement on Friday.

The Office was created in 2012 with the mandate of investigating complaints by South African National Defence Force (SANDF) members and former members regarding their conditions of service.

Part of the mandate is also investigating the complaints from the members of the public regarding the official conduct of the SANDF when they are on duty.

Meanwhile, the committee welcomed progress made in investigating complaints lodged with the Ombud Office, especially carryover cases from the previous financial year.

The committee was informed that the office had 100 active cases by September 2023, which included 53 cases lodged in this financial year and 47 lodged in the previous year.

The committee has encouraged the Office to continue ensuring the effective and efficient resolution of complaints within the set timeframes through continued improvement of investigation turnaround times.

This, according to the committee, will further entrench the legitimacy of the office in the hearts and minds of South Africans.

The committee also welcomed the work the Office has done in strengthening its outreach programme across the country to make the public aware of its mandate.

The Office reported that it has undertaken 52 outreach programmes across the country and that it is now collaborating with sister government departments and municipalities to ensure its work reaches a wider audience.

“The heightened outreach programmes will lead to greater awareness of the mandate of the office and will ensure adherence to set standards. Also, training of members of the South African National Defence Force by the office will ensure that members are aware of expected official conduct,” co-Chairperson of the committee, Cyril Xaba said. –