The Ad Hoc Committee met to be briefed by the State Security Agency (SSA) on the General Intelligence Laws Amendment Bill (GILAB) [B40-2003].
GILAB seeks to enable the President, through this legislation, to establish Domestic Service which shall be responsible for Counter-Intelligence and Intelligence gathering mandates and functions, and Foreign Service.
The President had adopted the recommendations of the High-Level Review Panel (HLRP) on the SSA. The President had indicated that SSA should be unbundled into two services that were fit for purpose through the amendment of the intelligence laws. The amendment should be done to disestablish the SSA, and establish the South African Intelligence Agency, the South African Intelligence Service, the National Communications Centre and the South African National Academy of Intelligence (SANAI).
The Committee had concerns about some definitions that had not been included. It was indicated that this would be considered when the Committee deliberated over the Bill.
The Committee asked about the amendments to Section 6. It was indicated that this referred to the different legislations that were to be amended.
The Committee will now commence the process of engaging and deliberating on the Bill. It is scheduled to call for written submissions on the Bill before Parliament rises for the year.
The Chairperson welcomed the Committee members, the State Security Agency (SSA) and the Minister in the Presidency to the meeting.
Apologies were shared on behalf of Mr G Magwanishe (ANC), Mr T Mmutle (ANC), Mr D Stock (ANC), and Mr C Xaba (ANC).
The Chairperson handed over to the Minister in the Presidency to introduce the presentation and indicated that the presentation could proceed thereafter.
Ms Khumbudzo Ntshaveni, Minister in the Presidency, indicated that she had to be excused early to attend a Cabinet meeting.
Minister Ntshaveni said that the Bill had been submitted to Cabinet and as a result, the Ad Hoc Committee had been set up to process the Bill.
Minister Ntshaveni said the President had adopted the recommendations of the High-Level Review Panel (HLRP) on the SSA. The President had indicated that SSA should be unbundled into two services that were fit for purpose through the amendment of the intelligence laws. The amendment should be done to disestablish the SSA, and establish the South African Intelligence Agency, the South African Intelligence Service, the National Communications Centre and the South African National Academy of Intelligence (SANAI).
Minister Ntshaveni highlighted that the Constitution stated that, “any intelligence service, other than any intelligence division of the Defence Force or the Police Service, may be established by the President, as head of the National Executive, and only in terms of national legislation”. For this reason, the disestablishment and establishment had to be done through an amendment of the legislation. In compliance with this Constitutional provision.
The Chairperson asked Minister Ntshaveni to clarify what was meant by ‘National Executive.”
Minister Ntshaveni said that National Executive” referred to Cabinet in its totality, including Deputy Ministers.
Minister Ntshaveni said that GILAB sought to establish the domestic service that would be responsible for counterintelligence and intelligence gathering mandates and functions, and the Foreign Service.
Minister Ntshaveni said that the draft Bill addressed other challenges faced by South Africa. Particularly the Constitutional Court ruling on bulk interception and any other recommendations by the HLRP.
Minister Ntshaveni highlighted the objectives of the Bill (slide 4) and the process that had been followed (slide 5).
State Security Agency briefing on GILAB
Mr Elijah Luvhengo, General Manager, SSA, briefed the Committee on the General Intelligence Laws Amendment Bill (GILAB).
Mr Luvhengo highlighted key definitions that related to the establishment of the two services highlighted by the Minister and other important terms (slides 7-8).
The Chairperson indicated that no definition had been included for ‘threat to national security’.
Mr Luvhengo said that this had been defined in the base document.
Ms D Kohler-Barnard (DA) requested that Mr Luvhengo read the definition for record purposes and to ensure that people who did not have access to the original document were aware of the definition.
Mr Luvhengo said that the definition for ‘threat to national security’ had not been included because it was a very long definition. He read the definition for clarity.
Mr Luvhengo highlighted the mandate of the South African Intelligence Service (slide 9), the mandate of the South African Intelligence Agency (slides 10-11), and the mandate of the National Communications Centre (slide 12).
Amendments to Section 2A of the NSIA-Security Assessment Investigations, Intelligence Services Oversight Act (Slide 14) and Section 6 (Regulations) were also indicated (Slide 15).
Mr Luvhengo highlighted the issues that had been raised by the State Law Advisors and SSA’s responses (Slide 17-25). Issues had been raised and responded to regarding definitions, the amendments to Section 2, the amendment to Section 4, the establishment of the National Communication Centre and Academy and the amendment to Section 19 of the Intelligence Services Act.
Minister Ntshaveni indicated that the SSA would remain available to the Committee if any clarification was needed.
The Chairperson invited members to share any questions or comments. He requested that members limit themselves to three questions each.
Ms Kohler-Barnard asked SSA to clarify the definition of “hostile interests.” She indicated that no definition had been included, and this meant that the term could be very subjective.
Ms Kohler-Barnard asked for the amendments of Section 6 to be pointed out. She asked for Section 6, which defined the Minister’s duties, to be highlighted in the document.
The Chairperson asked if the Committee was meant to have all of the Acts available to them to assist members in seeing the amendments that were being made.
Mr Nathi Mjenxane, Parliamentary Legal Advisor, Constitutional and Legal Services Office, confirmed this. He indicated that it would be provided to the Committee.
The Chairperson asked if there would be a different set of regulations for each service or agency or a general set of regulations that applied to everything.
Ms Thembisile Majole, Director-General (DG), SSA, said that the regulations would be developed in different sections because they governed different sections of the regulations. SSA had to consider amending what existed and incorporating it, which is why it took two years.
Ms Majole responded to the question regarding the definition of “hostile interests”. Hostile interests referred to any acts that were hostile or subversive to the country.
The Chairperson said that the question was to ask why it had not been included in the definitions.
Ms Kohler-Barnard highlighted the clause that stated, “subversion and undue influence by hostile interests on government processes”. The interpretation of this could be very wide. It could be interpreted as DA criticism of a particular government development which may be viewed as hostile. She reiterated the request for a definition of “hostile interests”.
The Chairperson felt it was too early for this request. The Committee would still have time to deliberate and could discuss the definition at that point.
Mr Luvhengo agreed that the definitions could be discussed during the deliberations. He indicated that terms such as ‘subversion,’ and ‘hostile acts’ were defined as threats to national security. The use of these terms in the legislation was informed by this. The terms, considered a threat to national security, would be grouped under ‘hostile acts’.
An official from SSA responded to the question regarding other regulations provided for in Section 6 of the National Strategic Intelligence Act. The amendments referred to were the amendments to different legislations. The regulations issued in terms of Section 6 were in the original Act. He agreed that it was necessary for the Committee to have access to all the acts when deliberations began. There would be regulations that required SSA to regulate, for example, counterintelligence.
The Director-General was relieved to have reached this point in terms of the processing of the Bill. She thanked the Committee for their guidance and work.
Mr B Hadebe (ANC) noted that SSA had only introduced the Bill and that there would be engagement between SSA and the Committee at a later stage.
The Chairperson asked if there was any input from the Chief State Law Advisor.
Adv Susan Masapu, Chief State Law Advisor, indicated that she had no input at this point. The Department had the opportunity to brief the Committee on the Bill. The Office of the Chief State Law Advisor was available to assist when the Committee began deliberation, if and when invited.
The Chairperson excused the Department.
The Chairperson indicated that the consideration of minutes would stand over because the meeting did not have a quorum.
The Chairperson asked if members had any additions or amendments to make the advert.
Mr Kohler-Barnard asked when the advert was due to be published. What was the deadline? How long was the Committee required to have between the publishing of the advert and the next step in the process?
Mr Mjenxane said that there was a minimum of three weeks between publication and the next step, but indicated that the more time, the better.
Mr Hadebe asked when the advert would be published.
The Chairperson indicated that it would be published the following weekend.
Mr Hadebe asked which newspapers would be targeted.
The Chairperson indicated that the newspapers had been discussed previously.
The meeting was adjourned.
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