During a virtual Council meeting held on Wednesday afternoon, 13 October 2021, Council approved the appointment of members for an Ombud Committee in terms of sections 33 and 79 of the Local Government: Municipal Structures Act 117 of 1998.
The committee will be chaired by the Speaker of Council and two non-executive councillors representing the ruling party and the official opposition.
The objective of the Ombud Committee is to investigate complaints from members of the public referred to it by the Executive Mayor and to make a recommendation to Council. This will ensure that the Municipality is responsive and accountable while ensuring Council to exercise its oversight responsibilities.
Residents must note that this committee do not replace any of the existing complaint and appeal structures and are urged to exhaust these avenues first before referring a matter to the Executive Mayor.
The procedure to be followed
- The Ombudsman must have a discretion to adopt its own procedure. Notwithstanding the aforesaid the procedure should at all times be lawful, reasonable and fair and should therefore at least consist of that which follows below.
- The Mayor forward a complaint to the Chairperson of the Ombudsman together with all information obtained.
- The Chairperson call the committee together to consider the complaint and information obtained.
- The Ombudsman consider in the first instance whether the information is sufficient to decide the issue, alternatively whether there are factual disputes which should be amplified by oral evidence.
- The Ombudsman consider in the second instance whether it is necessary to co-opt advisory members.
- If the information is sufficient to decide the issue, then the Ombudsman may decide the issue and make a written recommendation to Council supported by sound reasons.
- If the information is insufficient, and/or there are factual disputes and/or it is necessary to co-opt advisory members, then the Ombudsman must stand down to a further date in order for the Municipal Manager to appoint the advisory members and to arrange a date for the complainant and members of the administration to appear before the Ombudsman.
- On the further date both parties must be afforded an opportunity to place evidence before the Ombudsman. The members of the Ombudsman must be afforded the opportunity to ask questions of clarity.
- After all the evidence was gathered [on documents and oral representation] the Ombudsman must come to its decision by means of a written recommendation to Council.