Military Ombud to the rescue for MSD volunteers


What can only be termed a complete disregard for set down conditions of service for volunteers who make it through the selection process for military skills development (MSD) training has been corrected by the Military Ombud.

At the heart of complaints brought to retired general Vusi Masondo’s office in Centurion is shabby and shoddy treatment apparently dished out to an unnamed number of MSD volunteers that started more than three years ago.

SA Soldier, the official SA National Defence Force (SANDF) monthly publication, reports under the headline “A happy ending for SA Army MSD members” that the sorry saga started in August 2017. That was when an unnamed number of MSD volunteers, by now considered “SANDF members”, were selected by the landward force “to attend a foreign learning opportunity in Cuba”.

In their complaint to the Ombud they indicate they were “selected” for officer formative training at the Army Gymnasium in Heidelberg and that’s when trouble started.

“While training at the Gymnasium the MSD volunteers were informed by their career manager that some of them would not be attending the foreign learning opportunity in Cuba as initially indicated,” according to the official SANDF publication.

“They further alleged in August 2018, three SANDF officials (sic) informed them they will be offered a 10 year core service system (CSS) Regular Force contract. They accepted and signed the contract, but were not given a copy. In November the same year, they met two SANDF officials (sic) from the SA Army Support Formation who informed them their 10 year CSS contracts will be rescinded on the grounds that there were no posts available for officers’ appointment.

“At that stage some colleagues had already left for Cuba and on enquiring as to what is going to happen to those in Cuba, they were told they will be translated (sic) to the rank of Corporal. The complainants were then instructed to sign up for the Reserve Force component of the SA Army.

“As a result they felt cancellation of their 10 year CSS contracts amounted to unfair termination of service, which falls in the context of conditions of service.”

They went to the Military Ombud seeking re-instatement of the CSS contracts and full payment of the MSD gratuity due on 31 December 2018.

“The complaint was investigated and it was found the SA Army committed a breach of contract by rescinding the 10 year CSS contracts.

“As a result of the Office of the Military Ombud intervention, Chief of the SA Army reinstated the 10 year core service system contracts entered into with the complainants and they were finally paid their MSD service bonus,” SA Soldier reports. The publication does not indicate if disciplinary action was instituted against the SA Army Support Formation officers involved.