SA democracy maturing: Sisulu

2012-05-14 22:27

Pretoria - South Africa's democracy and citizens' awareness of their right to seek recourse over grievances has continued to gain strength since 1994, Defence Minister Lindiwe Sisulu said on Monday.

She was addressing delegates at the swearing-in ceremony of the country's newly-appointed military ombudsman at the Thaba Tshwane military base in Pretoria.

"Today, our soldiers have a greater sense of their right to recourse for grievance procedures than they did in 1994. Our defence force institutions have changed substantially," she said.

Former acting chief of the SA National Defence Force (SANDF) Lieutenant General Themba Mathanzima was sworn in by Judge Francis Legodi of the North Gauteng High Court.

The Military Ombud Act was passed by Parliament in March after it was tabled in June 2011.

Quality of life

"The ombud is mandated to improve the quality of life for members of the national defence force. We hope to achieve this with the appropriate cost," Sisulu said.

She said she had taken Public Protector Thuli Madonsela's recommendation to have "a person associated with the culture and practice of the military" to handle complaints from the military.

Earlier, Madonsela told the gathering that Mathanzima should not hesitate to make objective decisions against the SANDF.

"Being a member of the family... do not treat the defence community as a mafia," she said.

"In the mafia, if you are a member of the family, you do not make decisions against family. Family is always right in the mafia," she said.

"I hope that that will not be the case with you. If you do that, you will render this office not an ombud office, but a lapdog."

Without fear, favour or prejudice

Defence secretary Sam Gulube said, at the event, that the ombud's brief was to investigate all complaints raised internally by members of the SANDF.

"He will not be investigating matters raised in the media or other platforms," said Gulube.

"The military ombud may not investigate a complaint relating to the manner in which a military judge performs his or her functions as a judge.

"Very importantly, the ombud may refuse to investigate a complaint if the investigation may undermine channels of command in the defence force," he said.

Mathanzima pledged that all complaints raised within the SANDF would be investigated impartially and expeditiously, without fear, favour or prejudice.

"This office is not to be feared or perceived as a threat to the defence force, but should exist as an example of proper governance and accountability.

"It is an office that will empower members of the defence force to direct their grievances using proper channels."

  • bertus.leroux.14 - 2012-05-15 00:05

    in other words....she is saying...that this means that if as an civilian by any chance i'm witnessing an unacceptable or undisciplined action by a member of the defence force i'm not allowed to complain?

      grootrot.vanzyl - 2012-05-15 00:57

      Coming from a minister who openly defies parliament and wants to keep more information secret than John Vorster or PW Botha, this is rich.

      Benn - 2012-05-15 05:25

      And by her reasoning, SA is a military power- with its 6 combat pilots, one tank operational and 70% of the "force" infected by HIV-Aids

  • Vernon - 2012-05-15 00:25

    by the right quick....STFU

  • Koos - 2012-05-15 02:44

    Not even her spectacles could make her look intelligent. Where do we get these morons?

      Eric - 2012-05-15 10:16

      "Our defence force institutions have changed substantially"?? Agreed. For the worse!!!!

  • Michael - 2012-05-15 06:04

    Oh well, if our post 1994 freedom fighting defence force doesn't like the conditions they have to operate under, they can just go on strike again! Oh yes, and if we are ever attacked by some other armed farce, you know - like a naval confrontation with Zimbabwe on the Vaal dam, we should get our ombud to do lunch with their ombud so they can negotiate avoiding all that messy, sweaty shooting stuff. Ag shame, "soldiers" are people too you know...

      stanton.clarke - 2012-05-18 01:01

      LOL Michael for your comment ..."Oh yes, and if we are ever attacked by some other armed farce, you know - like a naval confrontation with Zimbabwe on the Vaal dam..."

  • Vince.York - 2012-05-15 06:27

    And SHE is the main culprit who just simply practices the proposed ANC SECRECY LAWS by never disclosing nor divulging any information - even when legally obligated to do so???????????? Truly like taking a coal miner from the mine face stopes and having them pilot our spaceship without any training at all - like her leader and the rest of the current failing & ailing team.

  • Fanie - 2012-05-15 07:29

    I agree! The democracy is maturing in a totally corrupt, lawless and useless government!!

  • Sheralee - 2012-05-15 08:11

    The people in the democracy may have matured but the government has regressed.

      Michael - 2012-05-15 08:56

      The only thing that's matured is the fungus between the honourable ministers toes ;)

  • Lauden Kirk - 2012-05-15 09:52

    Tik I tell you. It's even made our gov mad

  • Neville - 2012-05-18 07:59

    I agree that there has been significant changes such as 1) The complexion in the make up of the military 2) Their newly acquired skill namely strikes 3) The military hardware that is not in use and was bought by a bunch of crooks 4)They are overweight and lack discipline 5) I can only sit and watch i awe how some of the top militia earned their ranking Will the esteemed minister please enlighten us on the significant changes that took place since 1994 which she mentions

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