South African Military Ombud delegation took reigns of hosting the forthcoming 10th International Conference of Ombud Institutions for the Armed Forces (ICOAF) at a glittering event in London recently. As the Military Ombud Lt Gen (Ret) TT Matanzima descended to the podium, the famous speech of ‘I am an African’ by Former President Thabo Mbeki was beamed live as it reverberated inside the packed conference room of London Tower.
South Africa was been chosen as the 10th country and the first in the continent to host this international event that sees heads of military ombud institutions coming together to share best practices in a bigger platform. The 10th ICOAF will take place from 30 September to 03 October 2018 at Sun City in North West.
ICOAF was established in 2009 with the aim of establishing best practices and to learn lessons related to the mandates, powers and functioning of these institutions. ICOAF gathers representatives of ombuds institutions for the armed forces from around the world. To date, representatives of ombuds institutions of over 50 states have participated in the ICOAF initiative.
In his acceptance speech Lt Gen (Ret) Temba Matanzima said they feel immensely honoured and privileged to be given an opportunity to host the 10th ICOAF conference in South Africa. “I am delighted that South Africa is going to host this important conference which is taking place for the first time in the continent,” said Matanzima.
Matanzima said the 10th ICOAF will continue to explore ways to share experiences to ensure that conditions of service are not violated within the armed forces.
He told delegates that they have a massive task ahead as the custodians of human rights within the armed forces in their respective countries in making sure that soldiers are protected at all times.
Matanzima further said as Ombud Institutions, should not be deterred in their efforts to hold the armed forces accountable when they are found wanting for violating the rights of current and former members of the military. “I believe that there is still much that the Ombud Institutions can learn from each other when it comes to promoting good governance. As Ombud institutions we need to recognize our responsibility in shaping the armed forces to continuously respect the fundamental rights of its soldiers.” said Matanzima.
The 10th ICOAF will be celebrated in two variants under the proposed conference topic: “THE EVOLVING ROLES AND RESPONSIBILITIES OF THE ARMED FORCES AND THE IMPLICATIONS FOR OMBUDS INSTITUTIONS”.
The South African Military Ombud has rapidly became a big role player in this (ICOAF) event as they are always been called upon to present papers on different issues. At this London conference the Military Ombud presented a paper on ‘Maximizing the role of Ombuds Institutions within Legal and Ethical Boundaries’ which was well received by all delegates in attendance.
By S Sgt Itumeleng Makubela
Photos by Pte Paul Mpangala
Office of the Military Ombud is a statutory body established in terms of the Military Ombud Act, No. 4 of 2012 to investigate complaints lodged by either current or former members of the South African National Defence Force regarding conditions of service and complaints lodged by the public regarding the conduct of members of the Defence Force.
However, the Defence Force Service Commission is a commission established in terms of Section 62A of the Defence Amendment Act, No 22 of 2010. The Commission is mandated in terms of section 62B of the mentioned Act, to make recommendations to the Minister of Defence and Military Veterans on improvements of salaries and service benefits, on review of policies in respect of conditions of service, and promotion of measures and setting of standards for efficient and effective implementation of policies for members of the South African National Defence Force.
Part of the agreement is that where a party receives a complaint, which falls within purview of the other party’s mandate, the receiving party shall refer the complaint to the other Party for consideration or may refer the complainant to the said party for further assistance.
Where the allegations which form the subject matter of the complaint has partial application to the mandate of either party, the parties shall decide in the interest of proper and effective investigation of the complaint, the party that can best investigate the complaint or to conduct a joint investigation as the case may be.
The Director Legal Services at the Office of the Military Ombuds, Ms C.N Pillay explained that issues in the areas of mutual interest have been expanded on in terms of the agreement. She said the MoU provides that complaints that are received in the event that one is institution is more suitable to deal with complaint as opposed to the other, they should establish which of the institution can handle the complaint, refer it to the other or have a joint investigation or an enquiry by both institutions.
She said: “The MoU speaks of collaboration and partnership in raising awareness on issues in ensuring that personnel procedure relating to among other things, recruitment, transfer, promotions and dismissals comply with the values and principles set out in section 195 of the constitution.
This also involves the sharing and assistance of information which will include, but not limited to complaints handling, support systems and procedure, training and development.”
She indicated that the MoU is a momentous step in fostering sound business relations between two institutions. Ms Pillay said they will support each other on matters of mutual interest and other matters they could learn from to expand their knowledge.
The Military Ombudsman, Lt Gen (Ret) Temba Matanzima mentioned that circumstances beyond their control have led to their institutions identifying areas of collaboration with the view of offering better services to their stakeholders.
He said: “The Defence Force Service Commission and the Military Ombud acknowledges that the two institutions complement each other to some extent. In recognition of the synergy between us, we identified areas of collaboration and cooperation. Our institutions play an integral part within the DOD in promotion of good governance.
The Commission is a strategic partner and we are confident that this agreement will benefit our strategic stakeholders which are the members of the military.”
Chairperson of the Defence Force Service Commission, Professor Edna Van Haarte said the commission values the partnership as whatever complaints the Military Ombud deal with from the SANDF members must also be of importance to them. She said the Military Ombud will strengthen their office, especially with their legal expertise.
The Office of the Military Ombud and the Public Service Commission (PSC) today, marked a historic day as the two institutions signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) to provide for a framework for cooperation and collaboration with the view to sharing information and enhancing the effectiveness and the efficiency of the two institutions.
The memorandum of understanding between the two institutions will pave a way for collaboration and cooperation in respect of complaints falling within both parties mandate.
Military Ombud retired Lt Gen Temba Matanzima says he is excited with the agreement as these two institutions play an integral part when it comes to the promotion of good governance, professional and ethical leadership across the society.
“We are positive that this cooperation will go a long way in restoring the dignity of those who find themselves seeking help from these two Offices. We are committed to serve our stakeholders with dignity and pride,” said Matanzima.
The Chairperson of the PSC, Adv Richard Sizani mentioned that in the recent cabinet Lekgotla the need for the improvement of efficiency, effectiveness and coordination was emphasized. He was of the view that the MoU between these two institutions is a step towards realizing this objective. He further mentioned that there are many benefits to this MoU, it not only formalizes the relationship between the PSC and the Office of the Military Ombud, but provides for the sharing of practical experiences and common areas of interests with the aim of enhancing the capacity of both institutions, as well as the referral of complaints.
The Public Service Commission and the Office of the Military Ombud acknowledge that the functions of the two institutions complement each other to some extent. In recognising the synergy between them, the PSC and the Office of Military Ombud identified the following areas of collaboration:
The Office of the Military Ombud was established in terms of the Military Ombud Act, Act 4 of 2012 to investigate complaints lodged in writing by a member and former members of South African National Defence Force (SANDF) regarding their conditions of service. The Office also investigates complaints brought by members of the public against SANDF member’s personal conduct in public.
The PSC is a Chapter 10 Institution which derives its mandate from Section 195 of the Constitution.
The Military Ombud Lt General (Ret) TT Matanzima is pleased to announce the appointment of the Deputy Military Ombud, Advocate Rendani Marivate. President Zuma signed the appointment on the 20th February 2017 in terms of the Military Ombud Act 4 of 2012 and has assumed her duties at the Office of the Military Ombud on the 1st April 2017. Adv Marivate was a South African naval officer serving as Director Military Defence Counsel since 2011 to date. She was responsible for an affordable, fully integrated, credible, sustainable, effective and efficient military Defence counsel service for members of the SANDF whenever required. A graduate from the Naval College in 1995, becoming the first black female officer in the Navy and joined the Legal Office in Simon’s Town. She completed her law degree at the University of Venda in 1990 and her LLB in 1993 at the University of the North where she also lectured for six months. She obtained a LLM from Unisa in 2003. In 1995 she was appointed as a Military Law Officer till 1999 after which she was transferred to the Military Prosecution Counsel and has climbed the ranks to military judge in 2004 and Senior Military Judge from 2005 to 2011. Admiral Marivate’s CV demonstrates that she has extensive knowledge of and experience in the military and public administration having served in the SANDF for a period of just over 20 years. General Matanzima congratulates and welcomes Admiral Marivate as the first Deputy Military Ombud and wishes her success in her new role.