Newly appointed Military Ombud, retired lieutenant general Vusi Masondo, has set as one of his first priorities to “engage” the chiefs of the four SA National Defence Force (SANDF) services on turnaround time in responding to questions from his office.
“Delays in providing responses timeously to reports has a negative effect on the performance of the office,” he said in a statement.
In its latest annual report, the Ombud office notes eleven performance targets were set for the 2018/19 financial year. Communication; legal and policy, strategy and planning (PSP) are the only three targets that were met. A crucial target not achieved was in finalising written complaints to the Ombud office which was largely the result of “delays in timely responses by the SANDF.”
Masondo will explain his needs to the chiefs of the SA Air Force, SA Army, SA Military Health Service and SA Navy so “there is a seamless process” when dealing with complaints by current and former members of the national defence force. He also sees the interaction improving the use of alternative dispute resolution (ADR).
“Timeous response is a problem that needs to be resolved with the SANDF,” the statement said.
Masondo points out improvement is there with the Ombud office meeting and “slightly exceeding” set targets for the first and second quarter of the 2019/20 financial year. This is due to interventions in the review and streamlining of the complaints handling process which saw “rigorous quality assurance” introduced alongside monthly dashboards to address quality of investigation and performance.
The majority of complaints to date in this financial year are from serving SANDF members – 66% – followed by retired soldiers (31%) and the public (three percent). Provincially, most complaints are from Gauteng followed by the Western Cape and Limpopo.
In addition to complaints the Ombud conducted outreach activities to educate SANDF members. Masondo’s office also devised outreach campaigns for the public to raise awareness of the Ombud and how it can assist with complaints about the SANDF members’ behaviour and conduct.