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Joburg to appoint an ombudsman to deal with complaints Print E-mail

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In an unprecedented move, the City of Joburg announced it would soon appoint an independent ombudsman to deal with a range of public complaints as part of its commitment to providing quality and efficient service to residents and customers.
 
The move, announced by the Executive Mayor Mpho Parks Tau on Wednesday, has been hailed by Public Protector Advocate Thuli Madonsela as a step in the right direction.
 
Speaking at the launch of a public participation process that will culminate in the appointment of the preferred candidate in March 2013, Mayor Tau said research showed that the promotion and enhancement of good governance required the existence of an independent body to which the public could turn should they have complaints against the institution.
 
He said an independent arbiter would also limit the issue of subjectivity as the body would not have been party to any decision or commission of any act by councillors or officials. The move is in line with the City’s Vision 2040, which calls for council employees and leadership to embrace good governance practices.
 
The city will soon begin the process of crafting a draft a bylaw setting up the office of
ombudsman. The draft bylaw will later be published and forwarded to all stakeholders for comment. The public will also be invited to make inputs.
 
Delivering the keynote address, Advocate Madonsela commended the city for having taken steps to establish the ombudsman’s office. She said in many countries, people had taken to the streets to express their unhappiness about government decisions. In the majority of these cases, she said, governments had been brought down because correct systems through which people’s anger could be channelled were absent.
 
She said by establishing the ombudsman’s office, the City of Joburg wanted to ensure that there was someone who carried the conscience of the public. “Whoever is appointed must have the courage and power to tell the councillors that they are not looking good, [in cases where they have erred].”
 
Madonsela said with the establishment of an ombudsman’s office, the city would be required to include a footnote in all its correspondence advising the public to the effect that in the event they were not happy with a service or information provided, they could take the matter up with the ombudsman office, and provide the contact details. 
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