A Military Ombudsman Bill [B9-2011] has been tabled in the National Assembly. The Bill, once enacted, will establish an office of the Military Ombudsman to attend to complaints emanating from members of the Defence Force as well as members of the public “and to ensure speedy resolution of complaints within and against the Defence Force.”
Currently complaints arising from the Defence Force are dealt with in terms of the Individual Grievance Regulation and by a military investigator embedded in the office of the Public Protector. “Due to the uniqueness of the defence environment, the Department [of Defence] contends that this arrangement is insufficient and inefficient as a complaints resolution mechanism,” a memorandum attached to the draft law explains.
“An impartial Office serves a meaningful contribution in attending to these complaints as they often emerge from a widespread culture of uncertainty in dispute resolutions within a largely closed organisation. Although the grievance procedures have been improved, the establishment of the Office and appointment of the Military Ombudsman will go a long way in addressing these issues.”
The Bill prescribes that the president must appoint as a Military Ombudsman a person who (a) possesses adequate knowledge of the Constitution; and (b) has knowledge of or experience in military and public administration that was gained over a period of 10 years.
The president must, in consultation with the Ombudsman, appoint a Deputy Military Ombudsman who (a) possesses adequate knowledge of the Constitution; and (b) has knowledge of or experience in military and public administration that was gained over a period of eight years.
The Ombudsman will hold office for a non-renewable period of five years.