General Intelligence Laws Amendment Bill: adoption

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

23 May 2013
Chairperson: Mr T Chaane (ANC, North West)
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Meeting Summary

The Chairperson noted that a full briefing on the General Intelligence Laws Amendment Bill had been given at the last meeting and asked the parties to present their positions on the Bill. There were brief queries raised by the ID and DA, for clarity, firstly, on the intention behind clause 4(c)(5), and secondly on what amendments had been proposed and adopted by the National Assembly ad hoc committee, which were answered by the Department of State Security. All parties then indicated that they had no problems with the Bill as tabled. They resolved unanimously to adopt the Bill without any amendments, and the Committee Report, with one technical amendment of the insertion of a reference, in the main body of the Report, to the Ad Hoc Committee “of the NCOP”. It was also noted that the Committee would table a brief Report in the House and there would be adequate proof that this Bill had passed through the NCOP processes correctly.

Members then approved the minutes of 14 and 15 May 2013.

Meeting report

General Intelligence Laws Amendment Bill
The Chairperson noted that after the last meeting the Members had been asked to take the matter back to their parties and raise any amendments that they wished at the current meeting

Mr J Gunda (ID, Northern Cape) said that he had not been able to attend the last meeting, and asked for clarity on clause 4(c)(5). He noted that there were bodies such as the Public Protector and the Standing Committee on Intelligence, to whom information should surely be provided.

Mr Dennis Dlomo, Acting Director General, Department of State Security said that the main aim of the clause was to empower the State Security Agency (SSA) to deal with matters that had the potential to undermine national security. Departments were required to brief the SSA on the challenges they faced. Even if there was sensitive information that had nothing to do with national security, this clause would empower the SSA to get the information that it needed to act and follow up.

The Chairperson advised Mr Gunda that in the previous week the SSA had taken the Committee through all the proposed technical amendments. He called on the parties to indicate whether they wished to propose any other amendments.

Mr D Bekker (DA, Western Cape) noted that the National Assembly (NA) had accepted the Bill, but he wanted to know what the specific changes were that were made by the NA. For instance, he had heard that clauses 2 and 4 had been deleted, and he wanted more detail of what those had contained.

The Chairperson said that the version of the Bill now before the Committee (B25-B) was the Bill as adopted by the NA, with amendments.

Mr Dlomo said that he would briefly talk to a summary of the amendments that had been proposed to the original wording of the Bill, which were tabled to, and accepted by the NA committee.

Clause 1 was amended by substituting the word “definitions” with “definition”, and there had been deletion of definitions of “foreign signals intelligence” and ”information security” since they were not used in the main body of the Bill.

The references, in clause 1, at line 17 of page 2, to subversion, sedition, treason, sabotage and terrorism aimed at personnel, and strategic installations and resources, and terrorist and related activities were removed, and substituted with the phrase “any threat or potential threat to national security”. The NA Ad Hoc Committee resources, felt that it was better to define "national security", which included a number of crimes, so that a reference to “threats and potential threats to national security" would then cover everything in that definition. Most of the changes were aimed to make the reading more straightforward.

Mr Gunda interjected to ask if those amendments had been agreed to, and were in the current version of the Bill. He proposed that a written copy be provided, if Mr Dlomo was merely going to read through the whole document.

The Chairperson noted that the purpose of this explanation from Mr Dlomo was to clarify the points raised by Mr Bekker.

Mr Dlomo said that there were some other definitional changes. The major changes were technical and the mandates of the various agencies had not been altered, save that the SSA would not be mandated to deal with major political activity.

Mr D Bloem (COPE, Free State) noted that he was clear on the amendments and had nothing to raise.

Ms M Boroto (ANC, Mpumalanga) indicated that the ANC was happy with the Bill.

Mr J Gunda (ID, Northern Cape) had no further concerns on the wording of the Bill.

Mr Bekker indicated that the DA had no problem; he had merely wanted to know what changes had been made in the NA. His party had discussed the Bill and he was satisfied that it was in order.

The Chairperson noted that the notes on the amendments made in the NA would be provided to Members.

The Chairperson read out the Committee draft Report, which was brief and to the effect that the ad hoc Committee had considered the General Intelligence Law Amendment Bill and agreed to it, without any amendments.

Ms Boroto was not disputing the content of the Report, but enquired why the title to the Report contained a reference to the “ (B25B-2011] (National Assembly)”.

Mr G Dixon, Committee Secretary, said it was a naming convention to refer to the House in which the Bill was first introduced. This would not change after adoption of the Bill as the convention would still apply.

Ms Boroto asked where it would be reflected that the NCOP had worked on this Bill.

The Chairperson suggested that "the Ad Hoc Committee of the NCOP" could be specified, in the main body of the Report, without changing the context of the Report.

Mr Bloem did not think it wise to make alterations to the accepted process.

The Chairperson confirmed that it would not change the process, or the title of the Bill, and reiterated that the reference to the NCOP would appear in the first line of the content of the Report. He added that the deliberations of this Committee would be minutes, and the ATC would reflect the Committee’s name and the fact that it was being passed by the NCOP. In addition, the Committee could table a short report in the House.

Mr S Montsitsi (ANC, Gauteng) agreed that this would appear as business of the House.

Mr F Adams (ANC, Western Cape) said that, in his experience of ad hoc committees, the title could read "Report of the Ad hoc Committee of the NCOP on the General Intelligence Laws Amendment Bill"

Mr Bloem suggested that in the main body of the Report, the last part of the sentence should read "reports that the Ad Hoc Committee of the NCOP has agreed to the Bill…".

The Chairperson said that this was tautologous, since the Report began with “The Ad Hoc Committee of the NCOP”.

Members agreed to insert “of the NCOP” into the first part of the sentence of the main body of the Report, and unanimously adopted the Report as amended.

Adoption of Minutes
The Chairperson tabled the minutes of 14 May.

Ms Boroto noted that several Members had arrived five minutes late, but were reflected as absent, because the meeting had already adjourned.

Mr Bloem noted that he had sent an apology.

The Chairperson responded that any apology or anybody arriving after the adjournment could not be accepted as present at the meeting.

The Minutes were adopted, without amendments.

Minutes of meeting of 15 May
Mr Bekker questioned the reference to the adoption of the minutes of 8 May, but this was clarified for him.

Members adopted the Minutes, without amendments.

The Chairperson expressed thanks to the Department, and noted that the meeting and the business of this Committee had now been concluded.


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