Procurement issues hamper Military Ombud

6812

South Africa’s Military Ombud is seemingly hampered in finding “workable solutions” to spending its goods and services budget as these have to be procured through Minister Thandi Modise’s Department of Defence and Military Veterans (DoDMV).

Post a mid-term briefing last week from the Centurion headquartered Military Ombud, Parliament’s Joint Standing Committee on Defence (JSCD) indicated this as a stumbling block to its functioning properly and spending its budget. On the positive side Minister Modise has, according to a Parliamentary Communication Service statement, given “assurances the matter is under consideration”.

The statement further has JSCD co-chairs Cyril Xaba and Mamagase Nchabeleng expressing hope a National Treasury (NT) review of the Ombud office to ensure it is “adequately resourced will bear positive fruit”.

Regarding its expenditure for the 2023/24 financial year, the Military Ombud’s office was allocated R67 million, of which R26 million was paid.

With a caseload of 199 for the period under review (April to September 2023), the JSCD welcomed progress in investigating 47 cases carried over from the 2022/23 financial year and 53 other active cases. Of the 199 cases, 100 were active and 99 resolved as of 30 September 2023.

The majority of cases (37) were referred to SANDF Individual Grievance Regulations (IGR), 25 were referred to “an institution that is better suited,” 19 were dismissed, seven were upheld, and six were declined due to extreme late lodging.

Of the 126 new complaints between April and September last year, the vast majority (113) were related to conditions of service, while three were over “official conduct”. Conditions of service complaints covered everything from service termination to remuneration, placement, disciplinary procedures and services benefits.

Most complaints (51%) were by current members; 44% by former SANDF members; and 5% by the public.

Ombud, retired general Vusi Masondo, and his staff are “encouraged” to continue effective and efficient resolution of complaints in set timeframes. This, the JSCD maintains, will “further entrench the legitimacy of the [Ombud] office in the hearts and minds of South Africans”.

Fifty-two outreach programmes have given the Ombud Office and its activities greater awareness nationally. Ombud personnel are now spreading the word of what they do to government departments and municipalities to ensure Ombud work “reaches a wider audience”.

This includes the Border Management Authority, and communities dealing with illegal mining where SANDF members are deployed along with the police.

On this Xaba is reported as saying it will lead to greater awareness and ensure adherence to set standards. He was also appreciative of training for SA National Defence Force (SANDF) personnel saying this will raise awareness of “expected official conduct”.