Cleaning up the CSOS
In conversation with chief ombudsman Boyce Mkhize22nd Sep 2021
After taking the helm of the Community Schemes Ombud Service (CSOS) in April, Boyce Mkhize started to make some big changes. We spoke to him about his first few months in office and his plans for 2022.
What are the main issues facing the CSOS?
I am specifically focusing on improving the efficiencies and the speedy, yet qualitative conciliation and adjudication service offered by the CSOS. It is important that we ensure adjudication processes are underlined by reasonableness, fairness, objectivity, independence, and justice.
What changes you have implemented since taking up office?
Since I started, we have embarked on a roadshow to train and develop adjudicators to apply the CSOS Act, the provisions of the Sectional Title Schemes Act and Memorandum of Incorporation of the various schemes, when making their formal judgements on disputed matters.
In September, we unveiled our Service Charter which illustrate our commitment to improving turn-around-times leading to speedy resolutions of disputes. The CSOS receives thousands of disputes every year and these measures have been put in place to clear the backlog that had accumulated during the pandemic.
An internal quality control system has also been introduced so that adjudicators can be reviewed internally for compliance and allowing the organisation to draw appropriate lessons and enhancing practice directives.
What is your vision for the CSOS and what further changes would you need to make to achieve this?
I seek to infuse energy, agility, innovation, responsiveness, quality, and outstanding customer relationship management in all of our dealings with our various stakeholders. CSOS is a state-owned entity, but I do want to turn it away from the perception that government is ineffective, inefficient, and tardy.
This spirit must be modelled first by myself as a leader and cascade throughout the organisation. Governance of schemes and resolution of disputes is our key mandate and therefore all interventions I seek to bring will be geared towards enhancing best practices in these areas, without neglecting the impact of support functions.
What assistance has the CSOS provided to help sectional title and homeowners associations affected by the pandemic?
There is myriad of challenges facing different community schemes, but we continue to partner with different industry bodies on issues that affect these community schemes, to learn from each other and to solve the challenges.
The management of disputes in general has suffered some setbacks due to restrictions on physical meetings. However, we have instituted other alternative means for resolving disputes like online or virtual hearings as well as adjudications that are conducted on paper. This has created an environment where disputes do not pile up waiting for physical meetings but can instead be resolved speedily.
What are your plans for 2022?
I would like to see efficient and effective machinery developed within CSOS for the enhancement of governance of schemes as well as efficient resolution of disputes. A viable business automation solution must be procured and implemented to fast track our registration and on boarding of new schemes and maintenance of their registrations within CSOS.
Our public profile must also be enhanced through public campaigns and our performance must increase so that we can achieve at least 80% or more of our targets. We also need to reverse the qualified audit opinion that we received and move much closer to a cleaner audit.
Finally, our brand should invoke positive feelings of confidence amongst our stakeholders with a highly competent team of employees providing great customer experience.