By MTHULISI SIBANDA
JOHANNESBURG - THE Southern African Development Community
(SADC), hailed as the most stable regional bloc on the continent, is
poised to play a major role in security sector reforms and
eventually enable Africa to attain its target of ensuring eternal peace in
the upcoming years.
South Africa, with its lofty status as a model for democracy on the
continent, is lobbying the bloc to ensure all countries in the vast
continent establish offices of the Military Ombudsman, each responsible for
military oversight in their respective nations.
It is the only country in Africa to establish such an office, which was
created in 2012 to investigate complaints brought by members of the
public against South African National Defence Force (SANDF) as well as
probe grievances by current and former members of the force.
“The office will continue to lobby support and collaborate with other
ombud institutions and the defence sector in Africa,” said Lieutenant-General Temba
Matanzima, the outgoing South African military ombudsman.
He was speaking at the recent South African Military Ombud Annual meeting held
under the theme, “The Role of Oversight over the Armed Forces in the
Contemporary African Context.”
Matanzima said the lobbying was especially in the SADC region, where
they were sharing best practice and striving for the creation of
military ombudsman institutions or mechanisms on the continent through
cross-border cooperation and capacity building.
“This African footprint initiative is taking forward the recommendations
made during the tenth International Conference of Ombud Institutions for
the Armed Forces (10ICOAF) Africa Day Symposium in October 2018,”
The symposium was also held in South Africa.
Matanzima said ombudsman institutions were critical to a peaceful Africa and
should serve as independent and impartial institutions.
Kebby Maphatsoe, the South African Deputy Minister of Defence and
Military Veterans, said it was crucial to have oversight over the
military because the uniformed forces were generally a “state within a
“There is nothing one cannot find within the military establishment
anywhere and in many parts of the world. The military, as the guardian
of the state, also needs to be guarded...it becomes ‘who guards the
guards’ hence the establishment of institutions of oversight such as the
Military Ombud,” Maphatsoe said.
Ambassador Smail Chergui, the African Union (AU) Commissioner for Peace
and Security, said the organisation advised member states to commit
themselves to strengthening instruments for democratic oversight of the
“These oversight instruments may be country-specific while seeking to
promote and uphold good governance principles, the rule of law, respect
for the legal framework, including human rights and gender equality,”
The AU is on a mission to “silence the guns” in the coming years.
– CAJ News