South Africa gets 'super ombud'

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After long delays, Finance Minister Tito Mboweni has finally appointed a new Ombud Council.
After long delays, Finance Minister Tito Mboweni has finally appointed a new Ombud Council.

After long delays, Finance Minister Tito Mboweni has finally appointed a new Ombud Council, as well as a chief ombud for the country.

The Ombud Council was envisioned as part of the Financial Sector Regulation Act of 2017, but was never established.

Its role is to oversee governance at South Africa’s ombuds - including the Pension Fund Adjudicator, the Ombud for Financial Services Providers (FAIS Ombud), the Credit Ombud, the Ombudsman for Long-term Insurance and the Ombudsman for Short-term Insurance, as well as the Ombudsman for Banking Services and the Johannesburg Stock Exchange Ombud.

The council also has to make sure that there is consistent framework for dispute resolution across the financial services sector.

"The objective of the Ombud Council is to assist in ensuring that financial customers have access to, and are able to use affordable, effective, independent and fair alternative dispute resolution processes for complaints about financial institutions in relation to financial products, financial services and services provided by financial infrastructures," Treasury said in a statement

Eileen Meyer has been appointed as the Chief Ombud for the Ombud Council - but Treasury said this was "a transitional measure", until a full-time Chief Ombud is appointed. Meyer, who previously held senior positions in Treasury and Parliament, is currently an independent consultant and an executive coach.

These directors have been appointed to the council:

  • Deanne Wood (chairperson), partner at Fasken Attorneys and formerly Ombudsman for Short-term Insurance.
  • Dikeledi Chabedi (vice-chairperson), advocate of the high court.  
  • Emmanuel Lekgau, head of legal and compliance at the Government Employees Pension Fund (GEPF).
  • Silindile Kubheka, formerly chief financial officer of Treasury. 
  • Adam Horowitz, previously with Julius Baer International and the Bank of America Merrill Lynch.
  • Charmaine Soobramoney, independent consultant and formerly a director on the Financial Sector Charter Board and the Board of the Savings Institute of SA.
  • Katherine Gibson, acting Financial Sector Conduct Authority commissioner. (She will be replaced when Unathi Kamlana assumes office as the recently appointed full-time commissioner.)
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