Members of the Military Command Council (MCC) and their spouses bade farewell to their friend, colleague and a former member of the council, Lt Gen (Ret) Themba Matanzima, at a glittering function at Army College in Thaba Tshwane on 11 July 2012.
Lt Gen (Ret) Themba Matanzima has since been appointed Military Ombud. The occasion provided the DOD with an opportunity to acknowledge the contributions made by Lt Gen (Ret) Matanzima in the quest to support the SANDF to deliver on its constitutional mandate. The DOD values this relationship as a foundation on which we can build a solid national Defence Force that is fully capable of defending the country’s territorial integrity and people.
The Military Ombud is convinced that working together with all the entire stakeholders, the office will be able to meet whatever challenges it might face. Our collective efforts will ensure that it delivers quality service to people who have made huge sacrifices to ensure that our country maintains the freedom and democracy we all enjoy today.
During his address Lt Gen (Ret) Matanzima thanked his colleagues and staff that he had the privilege to work with since his first appointment in the DOD. “Your support, commitment and dedication in serving our people gave me strength to face with confidence the challenges each day threw at us”. Furthermore he expressed his appreciation to the government and people of South Africa for showing confidence in him. He pledged to the government and the people of South Africa to continue to serve them with the best of his ability and diligence and honour lisinopril medication.
While he was humbled by the trust shown in him by the president and the minister, he is fully aware of the challenges that lie ahead, including expectations to address matters of service delivery to our military personnel who played a critical role in ensuring that South Africa attained the freedom and democracy we all enjoy today. However, he was optimistic that with the support of his principals, stakeholders and the people of South Africa he would be able to carry out his mandate as expected, and that the experience gained over the years would carry him through.
His record demonstrates his ability and willingness to serve the people of our country. We therefore applaud his appointment. “With the support of all of us gathered here today, including the government and the people of our country, we firmly believe that the newly established Military Ombud office will be better served by his experience, dedication and hard work”, Gen Solly Shoke, Chief of the SANDF said in his address.
The Minister of Defence and Military Veterans, Ms Lindiwe Sisulu, introduced the Military Ombudsman Bill in Parliament today. She addressed the Portfolio Committee on Defence and Military Veterans on the need and relevance of an Ombudsman for the South African National Defence (SANDF). The Minister identified the promulgation of the bill as one of her priorities.
The Ombudsman Bill comes shortly on the heels of the establishment of the National Defence Force Service Commission whose aim is to advise the Minister on the conditions of service of the soldiers. The Military Ombudsman will investigate complaints and serves as a neutral third party on matters related to the Department of Defence and the South African National Force, acting independently of the chain of command and managers.
The origin of the Ombudsman is in the White Paper on Defence of 1996 and the Defence Review which motivated for a Military Ombudsperson to investigate complaints, inter alia, of military personnel against the SANDF. It is envisaged that the Ombudsperson will address any military personnel matters which cannot be resolved through other existing mechanisms”
The White Paper further states that “ the Department of Defence supports the creation of the Military Ombudsman whose main duties are to monitor adherence to democratic civil-military relations, and undertakes investigations at the request of Parliament and investigates complaints against the SANDF by military personnel and members of the public”.
The office of the Ombudsman will act as a direct source of information, referral and education. It will help members of the Defence community navigate a large and complex organization in order to access existing channels of assistance or redress when they have a complaint or concern. The ultimate goal is to contribute to substantial and long-lasting improvements to the Defence community.
The Minister referred to a similar institution in Canada where the institution is tasked with the responsibility to review and investigate concerns and complaints from current and former members of the Canadian Armed Forces, departmental employees, and their immediate family members who believe that they have been treated improperly of unfairly by the Canadian Department of National Defence Force or Canadian Forces.
The introduction of the Ombudsman alongside the Defence Force Service Commission will go a long way towards promoting democratic civil-military relations in the SANDF. While the Portfolio Committee on Defence and Military Veterans is still to deliberate on the bill clause by clause, the Committee expressed support for the bill and said it was long overdue.