General Intelligence Laws Amendment Bill [B25-2011]: briefing by Minister of State Security

Ad Hoc Committee on General Intelligence Laws Amendment Bill (NA)

27 March 2012
Chairperson: Mr C Burgess (ANC)
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Meeting Summary

The Committee was briefed on Sections 1 to 8 of the General Intelligence Laws Amendment Bill on 28 February 2012.  The Minister of State Security resumed the briefing from Section 9 of the Bill.  Sections 9 to 13 dealt with amendments to the Intelligence Services Oversight Act, 1994.  Sections 15 to 53 dealt with the amendments to the Intelligence Services Act, 2002.  Section 54 made provision for consequential amendments to twelve other Acts listed in Schedule 1 of the Bill.

The Bill made provision for the absorption of the National Intelligence Agency, the South African Security Services, the Electronic Communication Security (Pty) Ltd and the South African National Academy for Intelligence into the Security Services Agency.  The Bill mainly made technical amendments to the references to the Agency and the now defunct security structures in the applicable legislation.

The Committee deferred their questions to the following meeting of the Committee, scheduled for 16 March 2012.

The Committee had received a request from the Institute of Security Studies to extend the closing date for submissions to 10 April 2012.  The request was declined and the closing date would remain 12.00 noon on Friday, 16 March 2012.  The due date for the Committee’s report on the Bill was 8 June 2012.

The Committee adopted the minutes of the meetings held on 14 February and 28 February 2012.

Meeting report

The Chairperson welcomed Mr Siyabonga Cwele, Minister of State Security and Mr Dennis Dlomo, Acting Director-General, State Security Agency. 

Consideration of request from the Institute for Security Studies to extend the closing date for written submissions on the Bill
The Chairperson advised that the advertisements inviting written submissions on the Bill had been placed.  The closing date for submissions was 12:00 on Friday, 16 March 2012.  The Committee had received a request from the Institute for Security Studies (ISS) to extend the closing date to 10 April 2012.  The letter from ISS was read to the Committee.  The motivation for the request was the short notice period and pressure on the ISS as a result of the number of Bills currently before Parliament.  The Bill proposed technical amendments to a number of Acts and more time was required to study the legislation involved.

Mr F Bhengu (ANC) and Ms H Mgabadeli (ANC) were opposed to the Committee granting the request from the ISS.  It was not clear which persons were represented by the ISS.

Mr D Maynier (DA) felt that the Committee’s deliberations would be strengthened by the submission from the ISS and suggested that the request was considered.  The Bill would significantly change the structure of the security services, which was a major departure from the 1995 White Paper on Intelligence.

Minister Cwele said that the Bill merely proposed technical amendments and the issue of public participation was debatable.  The White Paper was currently under review and public participation in the process was welcomed.

The Chairperson pointed out that the Committee had to report on the Bill by 8 June 2012 and had a tight schedule.  He felt that the request from the ISS was not properly motivated and that the reasons given were not sufficient motivation for extending the closing date.

Adoption of the minutes of Committee meetings
Mr Bhengu proposed a motion for the adoption of the minutes of the meeting held on 14 February 2012.  The motion was seconded by Ms Mgabadeli.  Ms S Williams-De Bruyn (ANC) proposed a motion for the adoption of the minutes of the meeting held on 28 February 2012.  The motion was seconded by Mr N Fihla (ANC).

Briefing on the General Intelligence Laws Amendment Bill
The Chairperson asked Minister Cwele to clarify the documents and reports of commissions of enquiry that were taken into consideration during the drafting of the Bill.  The matter had arisen during the Committee’s meeting on 28 February 2012.

Minister Cwele explained that the report of the Matthews Commission had no status in government.  The report was leaked to the media before it was properly processed by the Cabinet.  There had been many reports generated during the period of transformation of the security services and all were considered during the drafting of the Bill.  The new White Paper would set out the legislative framework for the intelligence services.  The State Security Bill would be comprehensive and would be introduced at a later stage.  The Bill would reflect the new policy on intelligence.  Public participation in the process was welcomed.

Mr Maynier understood that the report of the Matthews Commission had no status.  The Minister had stated that all reports had been taken into consideration and he asked if these reports included the report of the Matthews commission.  The report of the Pikoli Commission was issued more than ten years earlier.  He asked if the reports would be made available to the members of the Committee.  The General Intelligence Laws Amendment Bill was being introduced before the new White Paper and the State Security Bill.  He asked if the Minister was asking Parliament to postpone dealing with the significant problems identified in the security services for a period of two-and-a-half years.

Minister Cwele responded that there was no crisis in the security services.  Mr Maynier had misunderstood the purpose of the Bill.  He explained the process followed in 1994 when the current White Paper was developed.  The prescribed process for de-classifying classified reports had to be followed before the reports could be made available to Members.

Mr M Sonto (ANC) called a point of order.  The Committee should proceed with the agenda and the Minister should not be side-tracked with side issues.  Mr Fihla agreed with Mr Sonto.

The Chairperson ruled that the point of order had succeeded.  He suggested that Mr Maynier availed himself of the Minister’s invitation for an informal discussion of his concerns.

Amendments to the Intelligence Services Oversight Act, 1994
Minister Cwele resumed the briefing on the clauses in the Bill (see attached document).  (The Committee was briefed on Sections 1 to 8 of the Bill on 28 February 2012)

Section 9 of the Bill dealt with the amendment of names referred to in definitions and deleted definitions for defunct entities.  Sections 10, 11, 12 and 13 dealt with the amendment of names referred to in various sections of the Act.

Amendments to the Intelligence Services Act, 2002
Sections 14 to 54 amended the Intelligence Services Act. 

Section 14 made provision for the insertion of seven new definitions, amended two definitions and omitted five definitions.

Section 16 provided for the absorption of the National Intelligence Agency (NIA), the South African Security Services (SASS), Electronic Communications Security (Pty) Ltd (COMSEC) and the South African National Academy of Intelligence (SANAI) into the State Security Agency (SSA).  The Director-General of the SSA would be appointed by the President.

Section 17 provided for the Minister to establish the structure of the SSA.

Section 18 transferred all functions concerning training and responsibility for the training fund from SANAI to the SSA.  Sections 19 and 20 repealed sections in the Act concerning SANAI.

Section 23 made provision for the Director-General of the SSA to submit an annual report to the Minister.  The report (excluding classified information) would be tabled in Parliament and be publicly accessible.

Section 25 made provision for the authority of the Minister to erect and maintain buildings to be delegated to the Director-General of the SSA.

Section 26 aligned the retirement age of members of the intelligence services with the Public Service Act.

Section 28 amended the allowable period for a member to be absent from duty before he/she was dismissed from 14 consecutive days to 10 consecutive working days.  The Minister conceded that, in practice, there was no change as members generally was considered to be on duty 24/7.

Sections 28 to 31 made provision for the appointment of advisory panels to assist the Minister with the consideration of appeals concerning the discharge of members.

Section 34 prohibited members from striking.  The Minister must provide internal rules to deal with complaints, grievances and conditions of service.

Section 35 made provision for the Intelligence Council on Conditions of Service.

Section 38 provided for the registration of medals with the Bureau of Heraldry.

Section 49 made provision for the issuing of six new regulations.

All other sections dealt with the technical amendment of the names of entities referred to in the relevant sections of the Act.

Section 51 dealt with the repeal of laws and transitional arrangements.

Section 52 repealed the Electronic Communications Security (Pty) Ltd Act and sections 17 to 24 of the General Intelligence laws Amendment Act, 2003.

Section 53 amended the long title of the Intelligence Services Act, 2002.

Schedule 1
Section 54 provided for the amendment of twelve other Acts.  The Acts and the extent of the amendments were listed in Schedule 1 of the Bill.  The amendments concerned correcting the references made in the legislation to defunct security services structures.

Discussion
The Chairperson asked for clarity on the reference to “section 37(1)(sC) of the Intelligence Services Act” in line 24 on page 5 of the Bill.  He suggested that the word “canteens” referred to in line 46 on page 22 of the Bill was defined.

Mr Santo suggested that Members deferred their questions to the following meeting of the Committee.

The Chairperson agreed and advised that the following meeting of the Committee would be held on 16 March 2012.

Minister Cwele was unable to attend the meeting on 16 March 2012 but Mr Dlomo would be present to respond to the questions from Members.  He explained that the premises of the head office of the security services were situated in remote locations.  Canteens were necessary to provide sustenance to members.


The meeting was adjourned.


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