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.