SA Military Ombudsman speaks at international conference in Oslo, Norway
The SA Military Ombuds Office meeting with Ambassador Zondo (middle) and 2nd Secretary Zondi (left) of the Oslo Mission.
Military Ombuds from 32 countries gathered for the fifth annual International Conference of Ombuds Institutions for the Armed Forces (ICOAF), which took place in Oslo, Norway.
The ICOAF, held from 20-22 October 2013, saw representatives from Burkina Faso, Ivory Coast, Tunisia and South Africa discussing the role of Ombuds Institutions.
On Tuesday 22 October 2013, the South African Military Ombud, Lieutenant General (Ret) Themba Matanzima, took to the stage as one of the panellists to discuss issues relating to institutional capacity development within Ombuds Institutions. Alongside him was the Canadian Ombudsman for the Department of National Defence, Major General Pierre Daigle and DCAF research assistant, Riina Turtio.
The panel agreed on the importance of a well-functioning and efficient administrative and institutional capacity, working across the borders, sharing ideas and experiences, for the future development of ombudsinstitutions.
Lt. Gen. (Ret) Matanzima highlighted the main pillars of effectiveness under the banner of “impartial and independent”, as being clarity of mandate; strong investigating powers, accessibility, credibility, independence and the institutional capacity to perform its tasks.
The panel hailed international co-operation as being one of the most vital components of capacity building.
“Future focus for international co-operation should include co-ordinated training, formal training and exchange programmes among member states with the view to enhance institutionalisation of such institutions globally”, said Lt. Gen. (Ret) Matanzima.
He also stressed the importance of a united Africa on the subject matter, as ombuds institutions are an “emerging phenomenon” on the continent.
Lt. Gen. (Ret) Matanzima stated: “The independence of the office from the government, especially the executive branch, is crucial to its effective performance, in as much as the ombuds office is expected to prevent or correct misconduct by the executive branch, it has to have institutional, financial, and functional independence”.
Lt. Gen. (Ret) Matanzima continued by putting into a historic context why capacity development is immensely important;
“In the South African context, prior to democracy, armed forces were plagued by a high prevalence of social injustices, human rights violations and discriminations. However, post democracy the appointment of the Military Ombud in 2012 has created an independent, impartial and expeditious investigation and resolution process for complaints in respect of conditions of service for members and former members of the South African National Defence Force.“
SA Embassy Oslo, Norway