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Joburg to appoint an Ombudsman Print E-mail
25 February 2013

 mbuleloruda

The process to appoint an ombudsman for the City of Johannesburg took a giant leap forward when hundreds of residents attended a public participation exercise at the Metro Centre in Braamfontein at the weekend.
 
The meeting was also graced by a number of councillors and City officials, including two legal practitioners – Mbulelo Ruda and Nomsa Mgida – who took the participants through the document detailing the functions of an ombudsman.
 
The Chair of Chairs, Clr Solomon Mogase, who served as the programme director, said he was highly impressed by the massive turnout and commended the residents for actively taking part in this important process. 
 
“It is encouraging to see so many of you here on a Saturday like this. This is indicative of the seriousness with which you view this process and your eagerness to help us chart the future.
This municipality is yours because it’s all about you,” said Mogase. 
 
The appointment of an ombudsman, which is in line with the City of Johannesburg’s Growth and Development Strategy 2040 (GDS 2040), will go a long towards addressing residents and customers’ complaints. Through the GDS 2040, the city seeks to ensure that customers and residents feel acknowledged through a refined, shared and comprehensive customer-care approach that puts them first.
 
The move to appoint an ombudsman was made after an increasing number of aggrieved Johannesburg residents started approaching other statutory institutions – including Public Protector and the National Consumer Commissioner – as well as the media, in an attempt to find resolution to their problems.
 
The city consulted extensively with other metros where ombudsman offices had been established to deal with such complaints. These included the City of Cape Town and eThekwini Municipality.
 
Documents detailing the processes to be followed when appointing an ombudsman were distributed to members of the audience at the stakeholder meeting. Many of those who attended said they were in favour of the appointment of the ombudsman.
 
“It’s long overdue,” said John Mogale. “When we go to our councillors to complain about service delivery, we don’t always make headway.”
 
According to the document, the ombudsman will be appointed by the council upon receiving a recommendation from Executive Mayor Parks Tau.
 
The ombudsman will be appointed on a non-renewable five-year fixed-term and will be based at the Metro Centre. He or she will either be a judge, magistrate or anyone who has been admitted as an advocate or attorney.
 
“There will be offices of the ombudsman near the people. They won’t have to travel all the way to the Metro Centre to lodge a complaint.
 
“The offices will be manned by people who are familiar with the functions of the ombudsman,” Mgida said. 
 
The weekend's session was one of the steps to be followed before the ombudsman is appointed.
 
“The processes should be over by May. The appointment should be finalised by June. This public participation process is very important because it gives the public a platform to air their views,” Ruda explained.
 
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