Parliament’s Portfolio Committee on Defence and Military Veterans (PCDMV) this week reminded the Military Ombud it has to work without fear, favour, bias or prejudice.
This was PCDMV co-chair Cyril Xaba’s response to the Ombud, retired lieutenant general Vusi Masondo, who told the committee the independence of his office was “at risk due to a lack of understanding and trust by all stakeholders”.
A Parliamentary Communication Services statement has it that some Ombud recommendations to the SA National Defence Force (SANDF) following in-depth investigations lasting up to eight months, “might be difficult to implement”.
Xaba is quoted as saying the position of the Military Ombud “is pitched at a level of a High Court judge and law provides whoever is aggrieved by his decision, may take it on review in the High Court”.
“Military Ombud recommendations do not depend on whether the SANDF is happy with them or not, as long as it is an appropriate relief on consideration of the facts.”
The PCDMV is concerned about funding implications affecting proper functioning of the Ombud office.
This, according to the statement, “follows the revelation that the funding allocation does not fulfil the requirement as regards staffed posts and that most of the budget is spent on cost of employees leaving little for operational costs”.
Other issues raised by the committee with the former SANDF Chief of Staff were financial implications of cases carried over to a new financial year, prioritisation of complaints from the public and uniformed members “as well as measures where the Ombud plans on dealing with recommendations not implemented by the SANDF which are in actual fact unresolved cases”.