News / South Africa

Gosebo Mathope
4 minute read
12 Feb 2018
12:34 pm

Financial services ombud dismisses staff complaints to public protector

Gosebo Mathope

Bam is not convinced a staff complement of 100 requires a human resources department, and pointed out an 'office manager' has been appointed to manage that function.

The office of the ombudsman for financial services providers (Fais) has denied all allegations made anonymously to the office of the public protector against ombud Noluntu Bam.

The Citizen has opted not to publish the names of the complainants as they also allege the ombud purges employees who are not amenable to her management style.

In a response provided by assistant ombud Thobile Masina, Bam emphasised the questions posed to her were strikingly similar to what another publication had previously reported and denied she was an office bully, unprofessional and engaged in nepotistic practices.

Bam also questioned why the questions were focused “only on the Case Management department, but can say that all the departments within the organisation are important in order for this Office to function optimally”. The allegations related to this specific department in the complaint insinuated she employed only those she could control.

The complaint also detailed how the office of the ombud had no functional human resources department, an allegation Bam justified. She said with a staff complement of about 100 employees “the Office has not yet found a need to have a ‘fully fledged HR Department’”.

“The matters that relate to human resources are managed by an ‘Office Manager’. The role of an Office manager is occupied by a candidate who is suitably qualified to deal with any human resource issues and provides the support services specific to the role as required by the needs of the Office. By implication, the Office manager is able to render support services that enable the business to make sound business decisions,” the response read.

On the accusation of being unprofessional and terrorising managers, particularly those who are opposed to her decisions, the ombud said: “The accusations are baseless, but for the record, meetings in this Office, depending on the nature of the meeting, are chaired, and the minutes are recorded.”

“These accusations are not founded or supported by any objective evidence, and I simply deny having engaged in any of the conduct listed therein. In any event, all conduct by managers is governed by a Code of Conduct for Managers, which as you can appreciate, I too must abide by,” the ombud responded.

READ MORE: Financial services ombud runs office like her household, staff complain to PP

The ombud dismissed allegations that she used poor work performance as a punitive measure to those not on friendly terms with her in the office.

“The performance management process comprises a repertoire of steps that include performance management of poor performers, and it is not a separately governed or regulated process. You may appreciate that there is a natural tension between the goals of retaining talent, performance-managing poor performers, and delivering on the goals of the entity, which all require a careful balance,” she said.

The ombud also rebutted complaints on how she coerces “new recruits” and protested that “the question broadly refers to ‘new recruits’ and creates the impression that the decision to have new employees report to me is a puerile act that is not informed by the role that the new employee is in or any other requirement that would legitimise having the employee report to me”.

“This is far from the truth. The only new members of staff that report to me are newly appointed Junior Case Managers and members of the adjudication department. Since they are the members of staff that are part of the technical team, you can appreciate the benefit of having them report directly to me when they commence their duties and ordinarily for the first six months of their joining the Office,” she explained.

The ombud said she failed “to see see the relevance of your referral to a failed recruitment drive that preceded the one which saw Miss Yanga Ntantiso appointed as a Junior Case Manager and I am loathe to speculate on what information you seek or what, about either of these recruitment drives you are”.

The allegation was that the employee, not named in the previous article, had left the organisation after being given a R50 000 loan on condition that she returns to the ombud after serving articles at a law firm. It is further alleged when the ombud realised that she did not become the preferred candidate, the recruitment process was cancelled and executed afresh.

She also denied that the office settled for close to R4 million with an axed employee.

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