Hansard: National Treasury (Intelligence) - Debate on Budget Vote No 7 (Appropriation Bill)
House: National Assembly
Date of Meeting: 23 May 2008
No summary available.
EPC – COMMITTEE ROOM: E249
Friday, 23 May 2008
FRIDAY, 23 MAY 2008
PROCEEDINGS OF THE EXTENDED PUBLIC COMMITTEE – COMMITTEE ROOM E249
Members of the Extended Public Committee met in Committee Room
E249 at 09:07.
House Chairperson Mr M B Skosana, as Chairperson, took the Chair and
requested members to observe a moment of silence for prayers or
Debate on Budget Vote No 7 - National Treasury (Intelligence):
The MINISTER FOR INTELLIGENCE: Chairperson and hon members, let me first do the welcoming. I am sure, in your own inimitable way, you will join me when you have a chance after the Minister's address and the debate. It is a great honour to have them with us today and I welcome the distinguished representatives of our continent's intelligence services.
You can see here how full the benches are in the gallery. They are in Cape Town for the Fifth Annual Conference of the Committee of Intelligence and Security Services of Africa, Cissa, hosted by the Director-General of the SA Secret Service.
We are honoured by their presence, particularly given our Africa Day celebrations this weekend, in which the vast majority of our people – absolutely without any doubt - will express their oneness with our continent, Africa, and together with our government and I am sure every single member of our Parliament and all the parties concerned, reassure them as we express our joint utter condemnation of the absolutely abhorrent xenophobic attacks that have so unfortunately erupted. I will come to this in a while.
Members will recall that in 2004 we pledged to build the professional, effective, accountable intelligence services that South Africa requires to meet the security threats of the 21stcentury. Much has been achieved, which my address will seek to demonstrate, and I contend that we are making a difference; we are providing value for money. We will constantly seek to overcome any setbacks that inevitably occur.
The need for professionalism has become all the more apparent, where intelligence services - including our own - internationally have had their fair share of mishaps leading some to take poetic license with Shakespeare's Hamlet, to pose the question: "To spy or not to spy?" I'm not referring to the latecomer who's just entered. [Laughter.]
In answering this question, we need to look to the genesis of intelligence. The very Old Testament has God instructing Moses to dispatch spies across the river Jordan into Canaan! As societies evolved from clans into kingdoms, empires and nations, growing more complex and interdependent, so too did the nature of the threats.
Developments ultimately gave rise to the establishment of the specialised intelligence structures that are a feature of modern governance. We therefore cannot afford to discard or neglect this age-old craft. Yet its utility is expressly dependent on our professionalism and the extent to which we are able to recognize deficiencies, correct weaknesses and, of course, root out any abuse that creeps in. This is why in democracies such as ours, intelligence services are subject to a range of controls and oversight to facilitate accountability and professionalism, keeping a close check on the legality, propriety and effectiveness of their activities.
Where mistakes happen, we must counteract the potential for a reoccurrence and, of course, avoid flawed products, mindful of the words of an intelligence commentator –
That the medicine can, if not administered under the very strictest and widest supervision, have the effects which are as damaging as the disease.
It is for this reason that we have been enhancing an awareness of the necessity for legality at all times, informed by our Five Principals for Professional Intelligence Officers: that our members acknowledge that they do not stand above the law; are accountable to the executive and Parliament; accept the principle of political non-partisanship; owe their loyalty to the Constitution, our people and the state, and appreciate that they must maintain high standards of performance.
Central to the attainment of this is what we call the Civic Education Programme based on our Constitution, relevant legislation and the civic responsibilities and duties of our members. Elements of the curriculum are being integrated into our training initiatives that we have embarked upon and includes a series of seminars for the senior leadership.
Also important is the evaluation that we conducted of our internal policies so as to secure greater conformity within the constitutional framework, and which has been translated into standard operating procedures that spell out the rules by which they must be implemented. We have also established internal assurance bodies to monitor and enforce compliance, enabling us to address concerns as they arise.
This must not be interpreted – and I really say this as an address to the service personnel - as tying the hands of our officers but rather ensuring greater professionalism in their work and a deeper sense of personal confidence in their decision-making and actions. This is a very important aspect.
We are bringing the legislation governing our protection of informatio regime into harmony with our Constitution, as reflected in our Protection of Information Bill that seeks to regulate the manner in which government information should be secured within an open and democratic society. The Bill is aimed at protecting sensitive information, which must lawfully be restricted, by criminalising the actions of those who attempt to gain unauthorised access to the detriment of national security. These provisions – I say this particularly to the media - are not a Kafkaesque ploy to obstruct the work of journalists, academics and researchers. Rather, they target those engaged in espionage activities and information peddlers disseminating false information to undermine the integrity of government.
The Bill, by setting out the procedures for classification and declassification, will in fact greatly facilitate access to government information. It will ensure that any decision taken to restrict information is done lawfully and is justified within the context of our Constitution, making it an offence to use this process as a cloak to hide government corruption or abuse - I am saying this in relation to members of state, including Ministers. In addition, by providing for regular status reviews, it will enable access to documentation that was previously deemed to be classified. That is a whole range of documents which will come into the public domain now.
All these initiatives are being assessed by the independent Ministerial Review Commission, chaired by Mr Joe Matthews and established to make recommendations on our legislation and mechanisms of control. The Commission's report will be made public and should be completed, we expect, by July. I must again stress that the purpose is to improve the management and mission of our intelligence services and not to inhibit them.
In building our professionalism, we have gone beyond legality and propriety to secure and, of course, develop our effectiveness. Critical is the progress made in implementing our Ten Priorities Programme, which was formulated at the first budget presentation of this portfolio and with this special Committee on Intelligence. This programme has served us so well in building our core business capacity by focusing our resources and activities on the main pillars of the intelligence cycle firstly through the collection of quality information; secondly, its sophisticated analysis; and thirdly, its timely dissemination to the decision-makers.
In so doing, we have optimised the use of our resources by realigning our budget spending ratios away from what was a very skewed salary account in favour of operational expenditure and capital investment needs. The National Intelligence Agency and its spending centres embarked on decisive action, decreasing personnel costs from what was an unsustainable 74% in 2004 - threatening at that time to go up to 79%, by the way - to 54% in the past financial year. Consequently, this freed up spending on operations, the rock face of our work, which increased from 22% to 34% of the budget, and on the very essential capital expenditure for intelligence services from 4% to 12%. At the same time we did so with very commendable ratios for the SA Secret Service.
We are opening up our recruitment processes to attract young blood and those with high-level skills, ensuring that all undergo a thorough grounding, as demonstrated by our revised formative programme for new recruits, which now runs over six months. Linked to this have been our efforts to engender a new management philosophy so as to improve the retention and performance of serving officers, through the promotion of career progression and ongoing training.
The SA National Academy for Intelligence, Sanai, is at the centre of these endeavours. Much has been done to transform it into a premier provider that it is fast becoming. Sound governance practices are being achieved; its infrastructure is expanding and its curriculum is being greatly developed. All courses offered from our formative programme, to functional training in operational collection, analysis and tradecraft, to specialised border intelligence and surveillance training simulate the operational context. This is all simulated in laboratories at Sanai. It's a very impressive training programme. This instils the necessary discipline and ethical work practices at the same time.
I must say I recently visited the South African National Academy of Intelligence, Sanai, and I was greatly impressed by the transformation there under the principal, Mike Sarjoo.
Our 2006 decision to create interdepartmental task teams on our key priorities with representatives from across government under the auspices of the National Intelligence Co-ordinating Committee, Nicoc, is bearing fruit. This is demonstrated by the intelligence flow from departments to Nicoc which, in 2005 stood at 2 469 reports and increased in this past year to 4 701. So, Adv Swart, you have constantly been at me about where the measurables are. I am gratified to see by the look of your features that you seem somewhat impressed. But we will hear from you in due course. [Interjections.]
Nicoc has strengthened its analytical capacity which is indicated by the growth of their analysts who now constitute 48% of their staff compared to 26% in 2004. This additional expertise has led to a qualitative improvement in our National Intelligence Estimate and the huge growth, as I have mentioned, in the number of products.
The National Intelligence Agency, NIA, is enhancing our security capabilities by the improvements made to our vetting capacity - another issue, Dr Cwele, which your committee has constantly, from year to year, been on about quite correctly. So the number of clearances issued now with the improvements has doubled since 2004. These range from procuring advanced technology to develope databases to focusing our vetting and security-advising resources to sensitive posts in priority institutions; to establishing vetting field-work units in key departments.
NIA continues to provide training and support to officials of those departments tasked with protective security in all government departments through the Security Managers Forum whose participants have increased from 70% in 2004 to 96% now – almost at the level required. These efforts are fortified by the South African Secret Service, SASS, which is responsible for securing our foreign missions and the advances made by the National Communications Centre and the Electronic Communications Security (Pty) Ltd, Comsec, in ensuring that our information and communications technology infrastructure is adequately protected.
We have directed our energies towards the frontline whilst enhancing co-ordination and support from the centre. As a result, we have strengthened the operational capacity at that rock face face where it matters the most, as I have already said.
Our advances can be measured by the feedback received from the President and from a whole array of Ministers who have commended the value of our products. This can be seen in our breakthroughs which range from exposing a syndicate defrauding government departments; to assisting our prosecutorial authorities, leading to the world's first ever successful conviction connected with mass weapons proliferation; to supporting our conflict resolution efforts on the continent; and I can assure you, to disorganising espionage activities in certain cases that might not come to light to the public. This is reflected in the raised morale of our officers who have a clear sense of their professional duties. In the period ahead we will build on the gains made; we will learn from the gaps and the errors, taking our President's exhortation of "business unusual" to heart.
In turning to our domestic priorities, we remain vigilant to countering espionage, subversion, violent instability, corruption and transnational crime, and we will ensure that all events hosted by our country, including the 2010 World Cup, are properly secured.
I have mentioned the current shameful outbreak of xenophobic attacks on foreigners. This is being urgently investigated by the intelligence services in support of the police. I want to take this opportunity to commend our personnel in NIA, particularly the departmental services generally, Defence intelligence and, of course, the crime intelligence, who work around the clock to get on top of this untenable situation. These unpardonable acts bring to the fore the need to intensify the implementation of government's efforts to eradicate poverty and reinforce our housing and service delivery programmes. Certainly government must learn from these developments.
I would say, along with my fellow colleagues in Cabinet, of course, we will reassess policies.
We must better educate our people in tolerance, resolutely dispelling any erroneous perceptions about foreign nationals, which can be fueled in circumstances of relative socioeconomic disadvantage and rivalry over scarce resources. Obviously that is at the root of this. It is these variables though that ultimately create the poisonous context - and please listen to me carefully when I say this - for opportunistic elements, criminal or whatever, to exploit and manipulate local grievances to their own ends with the tragic consequence we are seeing. We stress that our security forces will restore law and order with the necessary firmness and can forthrightly declare that the vast majority of South Africans, as I have said earlier, absolutely condemn this appalling behavior.
Whilst we are neither a primary target for terrorists nor a safe haven, we are alert to averting such an attack or the use of our territory by seditious elements from whatever quarter. We will monitor very carefully any such signs. In looking at our Continent, we will continue to support our government's facilitation, peace-making and postconflict reconstruction efforts.
Whilst the challenges remain, we note the advances made, even where difficulties still occur, through our involvement with the processes of course in the Sudan, the Democratic Republic of Congo, Burundi, Côte d'Ivoire, Comoros and elsewhere. Members, that we remain seized with the developments in Zimbabwe and we will continue to aid our President's mediation mission on behalf of the South African Development Community in the interests of all the people of Zimbabwe, who deserve a peaceful climate for a free and fair presidential run-off.
An HON MEMBER: But your President says there's no crisis.
The MINISTER FOR INTELLIGENCE: In moving beyond our continent, we are concerned about the deteriorating international security situation that is exacerbated ... [Interjections.]
An HON MEMBER: There's no crisis, so why must we worry? The President is the crisis!
The MINISTER FOR INTELLIGENCE: Can we have one voice at a time, please!
... by global economic turbulence including the rising cost of food and energy which has a destabilising effect on all countries. We unhesitatingly include the poor of our own country and the effects on them. The struggles to access and control strategic oil, gas and other natural resources are clearly contributing to instability and conflict.
So when we talk about the upsurge in the Xenophobia here, we are not alone. This is a global phenomenon and it is connected, certainly, with global economic factors.
An HON MEMBER: Who is the Third Force, hon Minister?
The MINISTER OF INTELLIGENCE: If you want me to talk about the Third Force, let's do so over a drink.
An HON MEMBER: No, tell us now.
The MINISTER OF INTELLIGENCE: I've never used the term "Third Force",
The volatile situation in the Middle East, with its interlinked conflicts, continues to contribute to global insecurity, including the ongoing tragedy of Palestinian dispossession and military occupation which - in this the sixtieth year of the Palestinian Catastrophe - remains an abiding source of instability and we sincerely hope that efforts to reach a solution will be fruitful.
Counterpoised against these negative factors is the rising influence of emerging powers in developing countries. We will use the opportunities presented to mobilise support for our government's vision of a just, equitable international order and a multilateral approach - premised on a commitment to inclusive dialogue in the resolution of conflict or its threat - as the only route to achieve the lasting peace, stability and security that humanity yearns for.
It is this vision that underscores our perspective regarding international intelligence co-operation. Whilst we are required to search beyond our borders to gain the unique information we require, we cannot do so in an unfettered manner. The no-holds-barred approach, reminiscent of the Cold War era, is counterproductive in today's world. Our ability to effectively counter wide-ranging threats is dependent on mutually beneficial relationships of trust, where we work with our partners on matters of common interest.
So with us here today, you might note, are not only the representatives of CISSA, but also observers on intelligence services from many countries, both East and West, who have been invited as observers and who regularly attend our budget address, at our invitation. It is for this very reason of common interest that we identified the need to strengthen co-operation, especially in Africa. Our commitment is reflected by the presence of representatives from the 46 member states which constitute CISSA. There are about 250 members in all at the conference, by the way. CISSA gives expression to the wisdom of the great icon, Kwame Nkrumah, who taught that, "We must find an African solution to our problems and this can only be found in African unity". CISSA is indeed part of our broader African solution, as it serves as a primary platform for intelligence sharing on common security concerns, thereby enabling us all to chart a common course in dealing with them.
In so doing, it is imperative that we further enhance our co-operation on the continent, together with our partners further afield, in countering this plague of international terrorism.
Here I would like to share with you a comment made in a discussion I had with a former Spanish Prime Minister, Felipe Gonzales, who in an anniversary year after the March 2004 attacks on the Madrid train system, commented when I talked about moving from the need to know to the need to share information in certain situations, that in his view if something like a score of countries' intelligence services put on the table everything they knew about terrorism, we would have as he said 95% of the picture.
We must ensure that our practical defences are as good as they can be; that our intelligence co-operation is as beneficial as possible; that our laws are properly designed to discourage and prosecute offenders; and that we are trained and equipped for the task at hand.
Terrorism, however, cannot be tackled from a narrow perspective. What is required is a holistic approach that includes technical and logistical co-operation with a programme to advance development, strengthen governance and democracy and promote human rights and social inclusion. Marginalisation, poverty, underdevelopment, injustice and conflict provide the very context for terrorists to establish support systems and recruit their followers.
Responsible states cannot destroy the rule of law or be party to eroding longstanding international conventions in countering this threat. This is fundamental; we lose everything if we sacrifice the basic principles of human rights. All countries must rigorously avoid demonising the great religion of Islam and its communities. This will lead to incorrect threat assessments and measures that harass and discriminate against law-abiding citizens; in fact, the very groups who must constitute the bulwark against the perpetrators, the recruiters, of terror.
In co-operating, whether on terrorism, conflict prevention or transnational criminal threats, we need to pool our experience on ways in which to enhance our professionalism, to ensure that intelligence is viewed as a credible force for good. Ruling parties need to appreciate that whilst we loyally serve, and I'm talking about intelligence services, within the context of their respective government's priorities we have the duty to protect all our citizens.
The HOUSE CHAIRPERSON (Mr M B Skosana): Hon Minister, you have two minutes left.
The MINISTER OF INTELLIGENCE: Thank you, Chairperson. We must ensure that our powers are directed at genuine threats rather than at political opponents. We cannot bow to pressure to "cook" our intelligence product to meet some preconceived "recipe" which would lead to flawed intelligence.
In returning, as I close, to where I began, I want to say it is precisely these elements that encompass our endeavours to build a professional intelligence service for the 21st century.
The HOUSE CHAIRPERSON (Mr M B Skosana): Hon Minister, I've been informed that you can have six minutes.
The MINISTER OF INTELLIGENCE: Chairperson, you seem to be as variable as the rand! [Laughter.] But I would say that I've certainly completed two minutes. I know what you are trying to do. You are giving me a bit of time for question time. Thank you very much, but I think I'll manage.
As our progress illustrates, we have indeed made strides in achieving this objective, identifying and overcoming whatever limitations, thereby addressing the challenge posed by those who seek to question why we "spy".
In fact, as we improve our abilities, we have sought to meet the statements of that great 17th century philosopher, Thomas Hobbes, who wrote – it's a little bit over the top, but it's good – and I quote: "Reliable intelligence agents" - are to those that exercise the responsibility of governance – "like rays of light to the human soul".
In requesting the House to adopt our Budget, let us therefore pay tribute to the "reliable intelligence agents" of our democracy, and express our gratitude to the Heads of the Services who together with their management teams have proved their mettle, remaining steadfast in their dedication to the task at hand, and who will always strive to be better "rays of light". I'm sure you've all heard that phrase from me!
We take this opportunity to bid farewell to Mr Mohammed Jhatham, outgoing Executive Director of the National Communications Centre, NCC. [Applause.] He has done so much and is taking a well-deserved retirement after a lifetime of service. And of course we welcome his successor, Mr Loyiso Jafta. In addition, we acknowledge Mr Silumko Sokupa, the NICOC Co-ordinator appointed towards the end of last year. He took over the reigns from Mr Barry Gilder, who as a true intelligence officer for life, has been engaged to assist us in an advisory capacity.
I convey appreciation to the Chairperson and members of the Joint Standing Committee on Intelligence, together with our Inspector-General, for the support and guidance they have provided us with their oversight role. And I want to say this: Coming into almost the fifth year of the portfolio here, in the last year of government, after having come into this new portfolio in 2004 and having to engage with this oversight body as the services have to, then I want to reiterate my appreciation for the co-operation of hon members and I want to say to you that you have worked so hard and spent so much time that the service heads who have come to report to you who at first perhaps found it onerous that every week we had to come down here have come to the realisation as this Minister has that the oversight factor in a democracy is of tremendous value. And on many occasions I as the Minister have said to hon members it has perhaps made us realise where we were going wrong and where we could do
better. And no doubt specially as we have to deal with this current wave of unrest, it will help us to find the best way forward.
Let me end by thanking the very hard-working members of my Ministry, who have been a tremendous support to me over these years. I would like to thank everyone. Siyabonga nkosi. [Applause.]
THE HOUSE CHAIRPERSON (Mr M B SKOSANA)
END OF TAKE
THE MINISTER OF INTELLIGENCE
The HOUSE CHAIRPERSON (Mr M B Skosasana.): Thank you, hon Minister. Members, before I call the next speaker, I Am obliged to honour the Minister's earlier request that on his behalf and that of South Africa's security services community, and indeed our government, I welcome the delegates from the community of intelligence and security services of Africa. [Applause.] Of course, I extend my welcome to all our other guests without discrimination.
Dr S C CWELE
END OF TAKE
THE HOUSE CHAIRPERSON (Mr M B SKOSANA)
Dr S C CWELE: Chairperson, Minister and other members of the executive, hon Members of Parliament, heads of secret services and security establishments, invited guests and fellow South Africans, I rise on behalf of the ANC to support this Budget Vote for the National Treasury (Intelligence).
Let me also give a warm welcome to the members of the Committee of the Intelligence and Security Service of Africa, Cissa, who have graced this occasion. The Joint Standing on Intelligence records and appreciates your tireless and unselfish work, which often goes unnoticed, to ensure that we remain steadfast in our march towards enhanced stability, peace and security in Africa.
The ANC condemns the recent and ongoing acts of violence directed at the poor Africans. Some choose to call it black-on-black violence and others call it xenophobic attacks on poor foreign nationals, but it may be more appropriate to call it what it actually is - the senseless act of criminals, opportunists and counter-revolutionaries who are exploiting the suffering of the poor sections of our land in order to advance their selfish and hidden agenda.
Who are these peddlers of this false information that the plight of the poor can be resolved through violence against the very same poor?
Who are these elements who are so opposed to our national democratic revolution to the extent that they abuse the suffering of the poor to fuel the conflict among the very people our struggle seeks to liberate at a national and continental level?
Who are these vampires who thrive on the blood of suffering African children? Who are the real beneficiaries of these negative perceptions about our country and our continent?
In searching for answers to these challenges, we need to step back, reflect and provide decisive solutions to this scourge of violence.
Bakithi asime kancane,sesule ulwembu, sihlaziye ukuze sivimbe lolu dlame, indluzula nesihluku esibhekiswe kubantu bakithi nabantwana be Afrika.
If you look deeper, maybe you will realize that this is organised violent crime. Its typology seems to take the shape of organised collective violence which is typical of an instrument used by people who identify themselves as members of a group against another group or set of individuals in order to achieve a political, economic or social objective.
This wave of conflict reminds us of the human suffering under our painful colonial and apartheid past.
As Patrice Lumumba puts it and I quote:
We are proud of this struggle, of tears, of fire, and of blood, to the depths of our being ... our wounds are too fresh and too painful still for us to drive them from our memory.
It was under this painful apartheid past that the culture of violence thrived because of the absence of democracy, respect for human rights, good governance and the absence of the African way of life of ubuntu.
We know that pushing back the frontiers of poverty and joblessness still remains a national challenge, but it cannot be solely responsible for this senseless conflict. We say so, because in the history of our national democratic project, there is no organisation or government that has mobilised so many resources towards addressing the plight of the poor other than the ANC and its government. We know there is no organisation other than the ANC and its government that has the capacity and commitment to extricate our poor people from the shackles of poverty and despair.
The ANC calls upon all our compatriots to unite and stop this senseless violence. We must move with speed to assist our communities to prevent this scourge, which is directed at reversing our democratic gains as individuals, as a society and as a nation. We must isolate the criminals who have jumped on the bandwagon of looting under the smokescreen of xenophobia directed at our brothers and sisters from Mother Africa.
We must rise and act now to prevent this from degenerating into tribal or, even worse, racial conflict. We must raise our vigilance and isolate these elements who remain opposed to our national democratic revolution and are sowing the seeds of conflict in our society and on our continent.
We must not provide a platform for those who abuse the democratic space in South Africa to attack our country or use South Africa as a springboard to destabilise our neighbours in the Southern African Development Community in pursuit of selfish, narrow and short-sighted political gains. We must stand up and act now.
An HON MEMBER: We should have acted two weeks ago. [Interjections.]
Dr S C CWELE: We draw inspiration from the vision of Pixely ka Isaka Seme as far back as 1906 when he said and I quote:
The African already recognises his anomalous position and desires a change. The brighter day is rising upon Africa. Already I seem to see her chains dissolved, her desert plains red with harvest, her Abyssinia and her Zululand the seats of science and religion, reflecting the glory of the rising sun from the spires of their churches and universities. Her Congo and Gambia whitened with commerce, her crowded cities sending forth the hum of business, and all her sons employed in advancing the victories of peace - greater and more abiding than the spoils of war.
Intelligence Services are instruments in the hands of the state institutions which can be used for the better or the worse, depending on the type of political system in a country. History tells us that intelligence services can be used for the worse in the hands of those who are interested in conflict, coercion or policies of regime change, on the one hand. On the other hand, intelligence services in the hands of responsible democratic leaders, as in South Africa, can be used as instruments of the people to contribute to stability, and foreworn against threats to the democratic order and human prosperity.
In the past 14 years, as the Minister has outlined, the SA Intelligence Services have successfully transformed from being the instruments of apartheid violence and coercion to be the guardians of our Constitution, economy, environment and social stability. They have shifted from focusing on protecting the state to embracing the broader human security directed at protecting our people against threats to their prosperity. Despite the meagre resources at their disposal, our intelligence services have made significant strides in providing the required, valid and up-to-date information concerning national security issues to the government policy-makers.
It is during these times of difficulties that the citizens often asked the questions, "Where are our intelligence services?
HON MEMBERS: No!
Dr S C CWELE: Did they forewarn us about the electricity challenge? Did they forewarn us about the current wave of violence?"
HON MEMBERS: No!
Dr S C CWELE: We would like to reassure the public that our services are hard at work providing information on these challenges. As we go on about our normal lives, these men and women spend sleepless nights in search of the relevant and accurate information to avert these challenges. The recent events give us ample opportunity to work together with our security and intelligence services to confront these threats to our national interest as South Africans and to our collective national security.
We appeal to all our intelligence services to work with speed to uncover those who are behind the orchestration of these atrocities. It is the duty of our services to expose the information peddlers who are bent on portraying negative images of South Africa.
South Africa has a clean track record for hosting peaceful and uneventful international events. We have an unwavering commitment to peace, firstly in our country and on our continent in pursuit of a fair and a prosperous democratic world order. Yet in the recent past we have been seeing repeated attempts by the information peddlers to portray South Africa, particularly the ANC and its government, as incapable of achieving these objectives. We know there is nothing further from the truth. [Laughter.]
These counter-revolutionaries are re-emerging from within our country and outside our borders with the sole intention of reversing our democratic gains or to quash our foreign policy of resolving conflict through dialogue rather than war.
The ANC is also concerned about the increasing attacks on our criminal justice system. There are many factors that members know about, from the details of the e-mail saga to the challenges which are facing the leadership of the National Prosecuting Authority and the SA Police Service leadership. [Interjections.]
As the Joint Standing Committee on Intelligence, we will continue our oversight over the intelligence services to ensure that they are effective and efficient in conducting their work. The committee has produced a number of reports to inform the public about challenges and threats to our democracy, as I have said, such as the email saga and the Browse Mole Report.
We also call upon the public to take interest in the intelligence legislation before Parliament. Over the next week, Parliament will be calling upon the public to make submissions and participate in the hearings on the Bill the Minister mentioned, the Protection of Information Bill.
We would also like to express our appreciation for the assistance and co-operation we received from our Ministers, the Inspector-General of the Intelligence Services, the Auditor-General, the heads of the services and the judge responsible for issuing directions. In that respect, Minister, we also welcome the appointment of Judge Swart who is now the designated Judge, and who is very hard at work in his office.
Despite these challenges we are confronting, we are quite sure that our country is on track for achieving a better life for all. In that respect, the ANC supports the Budget Vote for Intelligence. [Applause.]
Adv P S SWART
END OF TAKE
Dr S C CWELE
Adv P S SWART: Madame Speaker, my colleague on Safety and Security, who is once again here with us, after last year's debate remarked on what a surprise it was to hear all members of the committee, irrespective of their political affiliations, speak of their multiple misgivings about the shortcomings in the Department and not holding back on justified criticism. She found the honorable Minister's replies even more remarkable, when he openly acknowledged problems in his Department and its agencies in addressing members' concerns with respect and professionalism.
This being the last budget debate on Intelligence for this parliamentary term, before I address the budget and problems in certain Intelligence agencies and structures, I wish to acknowledge and thank the honorable Minister for the open and frank way in which he at all times replied to questions and remarks. I also want to acknowledge his willingness to debate, even in the media as far as it was possible, various aspects of Intelligence and our work.
But I would also like to thank the members, and in particular the Chairperson, for the nonpartisan way in which we over the years were able to conduct our business in the Joint Select Committee on Intelligence. Intelligence, by its very nature, cannot be the subject of efficient and transparent oversight if party politics is to play any significant role in the Committee.
Madam Speaker, it is important, with this term coming to an end, to have a broader picture of the state of our Intelligence Department and its agencies, inclusive of rime and defense intelligence.
In this regard, very close to the basis of most of the problems that cropped up over the years, is the overall need for a proper review of existing legislation, in particular the lack of sufficient regulations to ensure legislative and operational compliance. Most glaring of this is the lack of approved regulations for the Office of the Inspector-General, the powerhouse for operational oversight.
The Committee is concerned that this Office over the years became so engrossed in other matters, of which involvement in court cases was not the least, that it to a large extent failed to fulfil its core mandate in terms of operational oversight, as per section 7 (11) (d) of the Intelligence Oversight Act 40 of 1994, to report and submit to the JSCI Certificates of Compliance for the various agencies. The initial draft certificates last year did not totally live up to expectations.
After we had remarked on these lacunaeover the years, late in 2006 the hon Minister appointed a Ministerial Review Commission to do just that: to review the Intelligence community, with an initial time-frame to conclude its preliminary work after the first quarter of 2007, and to finalise its work during 2007. The members of this commission act as consultants and get paid as such.
We are now almost in the middle of 2008, and they have still not finished. Whilst the Committee is very concerned about the growing cost of this Commission, our major difficulty is that the term is running out, and we may very well see a new Minister in Office before the current incumbent has the opportunity to act on any report of the Commission. In that case, the whole idea of said Commission would have been a futile exercise, nothing more than a costly publicity stunt, which I do know was not the hon Minister's intention.
The very core of an efficient intelligence structure lies with its manpower, or shall I say, person-power. Thus the recruitment and training of its personnel is the most critical element for its successes or failures. After we repeatedly remarked about the problems and enormous failures of SANAI, we saw 2007 usher in a new principal. The Committee visited the training college during that year and from the outset it was clear that there were a number of improvements. Whilst we are still not satisfied with the lack of targeted recruitment for new intakes and the lack of SAQA accreditation for SANAI's courses, the overall impression is one of improvement.
Last year saw the OIC becoming more operational, despite various teething problems on a wide front; and this time I think you should take note of all the people I'm going to mention throughout this speech as that will be interesting. They are inclusive of Telkom and even the Minister of Communications. There will probably be more such problems, but at least it is up and running.
Whilst we are on the topic of interceptions, after the Minister for Justice – she is the second one - dragged her feet over a long period of time, we saw the appointment of a dedicated judge to deal with the applications for the interception of communications that comply with the relevant legislation. He is a retired judge. The Committee already had interactions with him and it is clear that this problem now also seems to be resolved.
The problem at the NCC with regard to primary numbers of South Africans is also sorted out, whilst amendments to existing legislation as planned will prevent further problems from occurring, if it is accompanied by sufficient and clear regulations to close the gaps. That's the problem, the regulations.
Whilst on legislation, and with reference to my repeated remarks about noncompliance with MISS by Departments, the Protection of Information Bill that an ad hoc Committee of this House will deal with in the immediate future, shall provide through its resulting regulations a suitable framework for the security of information by Departments, without impeding the right of citizens to have access to information of the State.
We shall still deal with this far-reaching Bill in this House, but apart from some very problematic clauses – and I've noted a number of them - which I trust we will be able to sort out, the overall feeling is one of maybe a reasonable balance between the protection of information held by the State and the rights of its citizens. I shall, however, not use this debate to pre-empt this Bill's outcomes.
Another problem referred to over and over again, is the vetting of personnel in certain positions at all three tiers of government. Last year saw the start of the establishment of Vetting Fieldwork Units in selected client institutions, thus capacitating NIA and promoting co-ordination in relation to vetting. The anticipated amendments to the National Strategic Intelligence Act will further enhance vetting capacity by means of decentralising certain pre-employment checks to clients for vetting.
Once again SASS impressed with their work, both in Africa and abroad, and again received a good report from the Auditor-General, with the exception of the ongoing case to recoup the money that their building cost, which may be regarded as fruitless expenditure if not recovered. We are, however, satisfied that they are busy sorting this out and are performing in an acceptable and professional manner. They are as always limited by a curtailed budget and a big, wide world full of threats and problems.
Crime intelligence in the same way is busy with its ongoing fight against often very sophisticated criminals, and while they can claim some major successes, even with the high personnel turnover they are experiencing, the fight really seems to be an uphill battle.
The centralising of command into one centre under the Divisional Commissioner could ensure better co-ordination all over the country, but their budgetary constraints also often impede their ability.
With regard to defense intelligence, I shall make only the following remarks – and it's a pity that the Minister of Defence has left this sitting.
An HON MEMBER: Typical!
Adv P S SWART: We are satisfied and indeed impressed with the professionalism, in particular with regard to training, in that Division. They are, however, losing well-trained and skilled staff to other departments at an alarming rate. The ongoing problems with their dilapidated and inadequate offices are also still a cause for grave concern, although we as a committee are now of the opinion that the Secretary of Defence may be the sole cause of the delays in sorting this out, just as he has been a constant frustration to the Committee in the dismissive and unco-operative way in which he treats both Parliament and the Auditor-General with reference to an inquiry we have been spending a lot of time on during the last year. We are now at this point considering taking specific action, maybe including legal action, to force him to provide certain information. Unfortunately I must also report that the co-operation of the Minister of Defence in this regard was also less than satisfactory, to put it mildly. He may be welcomed as No 3 of your colleagues.
On this topic, it is difficult for me to decide who was the most frustrating to the Committee, the Secretary of Defence or the CEO of COMSEC, who in similar vein treated the Committee with disdain and arrogance. We are busy finalising our inquiry into the COMSEC building and will probably table a report in Parliament on this shortly. On second thought, I think the Secretary of Defence won this one, being the most unco-operative public servant the JSCI had to deal with ever!
NICOC is another structure still without approved regulations, although now with a sub-committee to address this lack. There also seems to be ongoing challenges to the proper co-ordination of intelligence. In this regard the JSCI decided that the NICOC principals should be present at all briefings to the Committee, not just the co-ordinator and his staff. In general the quality of the briefings and products, in particular now that there are a number of project teams working on specific topics, is of good quality. Only their assessment on Zimbabwe, prior to the elections there, seems to have been a bit skew, probably due to Zanu-PF propaganda or our President's very special relationship with president Mugabe.
An HON MEMBER: Hear, hear! Absolutely. [Interjections.]
Adv P S Swart: Madame Speaker, if we consider the number of our hon Minister's colleagues who through their lack of action or co-operation impeded the proper functioning of the structures and agencies he is responsible for, he must surely be frustrated by this.
What is however of more significance than mere frustration, is his responsibility to act on threats to our national security. In this regard he and this House need to take note that at this stage the Minister of Home Affairs and her department may very well be the biggest threat to our National Security we are facing at the moment. Even the scandalous and deplorable acts of xenophobia we are witnessing in our country, are in some regards related to the enormous inefficiency and corruption rife in that Department. We will never win the fight against crime, solve the problems caused by our porous borders and the illegal drain on our social and welfare capability, if we do not sort out this department. In this regard we should start at the top, with the political head.
Whilst remarking on the Cabinet and the resulting woes to our Minister, I have to mention the Minister of Finance, being the chair of the Secret Services Evaluation Committee on the Secret Services Account, from which the JSCI in terms of section 3 (a) (ii) of the Intelligence Oversight Act 40 of 1994 has to obtain a report on the Secret Services. The Committee once again failed to secure a meeting with him during the past year. We do not even know if this committee is functional.
The Committee also spent a big part of last year on an inquiry into the so-called Special Browse Mole Report at the Directorate of Special Operations, DSO, under the Minister of Justice, on which I am sure some of my colleagues will remark. I shall refrain from doing so, but do support the report we tabled earlier this year.
In conclusion, let me thank all the dedicated staff at the JSCI, who often under harsh conditions does very good work for us. Also our intelligence officers, from the directors-general down to the lower ranks, for their hard and loyal work to serve this country of ours in a nonpartisan way. As always, limited funding and lack of manpower are difficult factors to negotiate. For those few, still playing political games or acting in self-serving ways, take heed, this Parliament through the Joint Standing Committee on Intelligence, will do its utmost to expose you and deal with you.
Madam Speaker, on this topic, the regrettable policy of our Government to redeploy laterally or even to higher office senior personnel, who make a mess of their responsibilities, is unfortunately also evident in this part of Government, and creates a culture of unaccountability, which seriously harms service delivery to our people. Government's apparent inability to deal with cadres who either are not able to function properly where they are deployed or who make themselves guilty of serious misconduct or even criminal offences, seems to be part of the tainted legacy our current President will leave behind.
Hon Minister, again my sincerest thanks for the democratic and transparent way in which you treated me and the Committee in general, at all times, even on very difficult matters. Despite various problems and constraints, your legacy will be one of a sincere attempt at openness, which is not always a characteristic of Intelligence as a phenomenon, and sadly lacking in most of your colleagues in less sinister Portfolios. Thank you. [Applause.]
Mr M J BHENGU
END OF TAKE
Adv P S SWART
Mr M J BHENGU: Chairperson, hon Minister and colleagues, we are indeed having our debate this year at a time of crisis. The xenophobic attacks which have cost so many lives are indeed tragic. I wish to join the Minister and Dr Cwele by saying that the IFP condemns this barbaric xenophobic violence.
We believe that the vicious attackers deserve to be punished to the fullest extent of the law and should pay dearly for their crimes. However, xenophobia is not going to go away until society itself confronts its history of bigotry, intolerance and hatred against people from other countries, particularly African countries.
We have still yet to know the cause of this violence and that is why the IFP in this Parliament moved a motion to the effect that a judicial commission of inquiry, perhaps, has to be instituted so as to get to the bottom of the causes that led to this kind of calamitous violence. We want to know the truth, and nothing else but the truth. Those who are responsible for perpetrating this kind of violence must be subjected to extreme, brutal law enforcement. I hope that that will indeed happen if we consider the way in which the image of our country has been dented.
The question that is on everybody's lips is how this escaped the sharp eyes of our intelligence communities, because it is unfortunate that this has happened, and people would consider that they are actually there to warn us before anything of this nature takes place.
At another level, Mr Minister, one can only hope that the illegal immigrants we have in our country are not here to use our country, as a springboard to wage political wars in their mother countries, and we hope that they do not infiltrate our security structures and forces for their own nefarious ends.
The IFP believes that the rationale for the establishment of the Scorpions was well considered and we are, therefore, against its proposed dissolution.
Again, the apparent deterioration of the relationship between the SA Police Service and the Directorate of Special Operations, DSO, which has irretrievably broken down, was mainly caused by the overlap of mandates between the SAPS and the DSO. This was indeed unfortunate, and has caused all the institutional conflicts we are now witnessing. In supporting this view, the Khampepe Commission had this to say:
The co-ordination and the co-operation between the SAPS and the intelligence community appears to be somewhat in place but operationally ineffective. There is no co-ordination and sharing of information between the NIA and the DSO, and where there was the sharing of information between NIA and the police, it is ineffective. In security circles, sharing of information is critical. It could mean the difference between a calamity and calm in the country. This scenario constitutes a dangerous threat to our country's security.
The SAPS has always maintained that there is a single police service in this country, and it is hoped that the playing field has been well-levelled for the integration of the Scorpions into the SAPS.
But it is not clear why the government failed to take action against the DSO when it rejected the law that requires that specific categories of personnel within it should undergo security clearance by NIA, and it is not understood why we did not see this as a threat to our national security.
The Browse Mole Report will go down in the annals of our history as one of the very dangerous and mysterious pieces of information peddling. Our committee, after a thorough investigation, came to the conclusion that the activities of the DSO in relation to the production of the Browse Mole Report were very dangerous and indeed posed a threat to our national security and interests.
The contents of the said report are extremely inflammatory and divisive to such an extent that they have the potential to destroy our new democracy. It is very clear that this report was concocted by what one may call neo-apartheidists who were driven by their own poisonous desire and ambition to plunge the country into an abysmal chaos. That is why we support the report tabled by our chairperson.
I must say that the committee was also very worried, Mr Minister, about what is happening regarding the building. Because of the time at my disposal, I want to say that the committee is very serious about this matter and we are following it very seriously. We are very cautious in taking any step to ensure that we do our oversight work in a serious manner. Of course, Mr Minister, I want to thank you for your good work as you continue to serve us. [Applause.]
Ms H C MGABADELI
END OF TAKE
Mr M J BHENGU
Ms H C MGABADELI: Hon Chair, members, director-generals and other leaders of the intelligence community, distinguished guests, friends, comrades and all the people of South Africa and our visitors and colleagues from CISSA. We are gathered here today to listen carefully to the Budget Vote debate of the Intelligence Services.
Our Chair has explained everything in relation to the recent events. I thank you for explaining these things to the people out there and I hope they were listening in their homes.
Whose budget is this? The poet WH Auden in his poem, The Unknown Citizen, declares, "Unknown citizen", but in brackets he says, "to JS/07/M/378: This Marble Monument is Erected by the State", and I quote:
He says he was found by the Bureau of State to be
One against whom there was no official complaint
And all the reports on his conduct agree
That, in the modern sense of an old-fashioned word, he was a saint,
For in everything he did he served the greater community
Except for the War till the day he retired
He worked in a factory and never got fired,
But satisfied his employers, Fudge Motor Inc,
Yet he wasn't scab or odd in his views,
For his Union reports that he paid his dues,
(Our report on his Union shows it was sound)
And our Social Psychology workers found
That he was popular with his mates and he liked a drink.
The Press are convinced that he bought a paper every day
And that his reactions to advertisements were normal in every way
Policies taken out in his name showed that he was fully in insured,
And his Health-card show he was once in hospital but left it cured.
Both Producers Research and High-Grade Living declare
He was fully sensible to the advantages of the Instalment Plan
And had everything necessary to the Modern Man
A phonograph, a radio, a car and a fridgedaire.
Our researchers into Public Opinion are content
That he held the proper opinions for the time of year;
When there was peace, he was for peace: when there was war, he went.
He was married and added five children to the population,
Which our Eugenist says was the right number for a parent of his generation.
And our teachers report that he never interfered with their education.
Was he free? Was he happy? The question is absurd:
Had anything been wrong, we should certainly have heard.
That is the life of such a complicated yet simple person!
The ANC researchers have, among other things, the following reasons . . . of course knowing that we are talking about the people who are responsible for national security across the valleys and the hills of our country and all that touches our areas of interest of which the failure can lead to a threat to the very same national security.
As far as the purpose of this budget is concerned, the ANC's research unit says, among other things, a budget that ensures growth is a budget in which the investment in the productive capacity of the state has to be seen tackling poverty and unemployment as a priority; creating sustainable jobs; investing in human capacity especially skills; improving the effectiveness of the state; combating crime and promoting a service-oriented public administration.
If you listen well to what this Unknown Citizen has as his possessions, you can now begin to realise that he/ she needs a good budget to ensure that the nation is secure all round. How do we need to see this Unknown Citizen working in a co-ordinated, goal-oriented direction?
Without him/her exposing his/her "how" part of it, we will as this committee like to see him/her having well-prioritised tasks informed by the overall dictates of the country's constitution; having a calculated plan of how to communicate with the service deliverers, that is mainly the executive/cabinet to avoid chaos and fighting over scarce resources by our people; to, while knowing continually that the they are themselves members of our country first before they are unknown citizens, be able without any fear to engage with the Portfolio Committee – in this case the Joint Standing Committee on Intelligence - to ensure that oversight work is not comprised as well as ensuring that it benefits and develops all the neighbouring countries wherever necessary.
The President of our country during the state of the nation address on 8 February 2008, said:
As I was preparing this address, one amongst us suggested to me that our country was being buffeted by strong crosswinds that made it especially difficult to foresee where our country will be tomorrow.
It is clear that a reasonable amount of resources has to be released so as to assist in foreseeing where our country will be tomorrow. In addition to what has been said, we must ensure that these unknown citizens get enough energy to analyse, among other things, what shapes the intelligence of our country; how we arrive at the correct priorities and what informs those priorities; why should Budget Votes that have been supported here in the National Assembly end up unutilised in the midst of the ever-growing need to address and redress the past; planning for a sustainable future for the generations to come; what should be done if these nonspending and nondelivery continues as if we are in a desert?
In conclusion, wherever we are as different intelligence spending services, we ought not to lose our tune that will enable us to march in a synchronised way guided by our own constitution, priorities and constant reviewing and moving forward ever and backward never.
To the Committee, the hon Minister and all involved , our African culture, as Steve Biko said in his book, I write what I like, "…is not to listen passively to pure musical notes". We have to be active listeners towards achieving neat transformation. We need to be wide awake in monitoring how this budget will be utilised.
In supporting this Budget Vote, we the members of the ANC, salute fallen comrades who contributed so much to us being where we are today, united as we seem to be as a nation.
They were all buried between the end of March and April. These are, among others, Comrade Joe Mkhwanazi, Comrade Kevin Qobosheane, Comrade Mandla Sithole, Comrade Ncumisa Nkondlo, Comdrade Sihle Mbongwe and Comrade Sindi Nyanise. May they lie like heroes and heroines. Their tasks have been fulfilled. We will continue with the rest. Amanadla! [Applause.]
Mr L T LANDERS
END OF TAKE
Ms H C MGABADELI
Mr L T LANDERS: Chairperson, I very gladly follow on after the hon Mgabadeli's moving speech.
We enter this debate in the midst of a series of horrific, xenophobic attacks on foreign nationals that has seen South Africa portrayed in a negative light such as was last witnessed during the apartheid era. Safe to say, these attacks constitute a serious challenge to South Africa's democratic order, but more importantly a challenge to the effectiveness of our country's security structures. Probably the last time we faced challenges of a similar magnitude was during the times of the Boipatong massacre; the political violence that gripped KwaZulu-Natal in the late 80s and early 90s; or the calculated but callous assassination of Comrade Chris Hani.
In my view, and I join the hon members and the Ministers' condemnation of these attacks, and in so doing, we want to say that we need to be mindful of the wise utterance of our Minister of Finance, the hon Trevor Manuel, who said yesterday in the National Assembly, and I quote:
It is necessary for all of us as elected public representatives to guard against fanning the flames.
Indeed, we want to take Trevor Manuel's position one step further. Anything we say and do on this matter should only seek to contribute to solutions so that the peace and order demanded of us by our Constitution can be restored. It came with some disappointment to watch on television the person of Prince Mashele of the Institute of Security Studies, who emphatically screamed out,
"Where is our intelligence?".
And I immediately envisaged members of the National Intelligence Agency crime intelligence with traffic cop type bibs, with NIA emblazed on their backs, walking around in Alexandra township. But we all know that it is not how the intelligence services work. Therefore, one would have expected a senior researcher of a respected body, such as the Institute for Security Studies, to have known better. His outburst certainly did not seek to contribute to any solutions.
The National Intelligence Agency's core function is counterintelligence and the countering of the espionage. An important facet of this core function is vetting for the purposes of security clearances. We note the hon Minister's pronouncements in this regard, and we welcome them. As NIA's new vetting system is rolled out, however, we want to say that it is essential that all state departments and government entities provide NIA with all the necessary co-operation, so that they can carry out this essential task.
There are many state departments and entities who are dangerously laid back when it comes to this crucial aspect of Nia's work to the detriment of our country's national security. A current example is the Directorate of Special Operations, the Scorpions, enough of which has already been said.
Another perfect example is the Airports Company of SA, Acsa, which employed a certain Paul O'Sullivan, a member of Britain's intelligence structures, as head of security at O R Tambo International Airport, without forwarding his name to NIA for the requisite security clearance. I am convinced that had Acsa adhered to this requirement, NIA would not have approved a security clearance for Paul O'Sullivan but instead would have recommended that he not be appointed to what, we will all agree, is a strategic position in terms of South Africa's national security.
During the year under review, the Auditor-General's Office tabled a report stating that NIA's asset register was incomplete. We want to reiterate the committees' stated position, which urges the agency to resolve this matter urgently. That brings me to the interception of communications.
In our past we have experienced abuses of human rights. I am referring here to the apartheid era during which South Africa's citizens had to endure their private communications being intercepted by the apartheid government's intelligence services, which did so with impunity and without oversight of any kind. Mindful of these abuses, our Constitution and law was crafted to ensure that such abuses were outlawed such that the privacy of our citizenry's communications would not be infringed, except under conditions that were strictly regulated by the law.
Aside from section 14(d) of our Constitution, two laws regulate the manner in which and conditions whereby our law enforcement agencies and intelligence services are permitted to legally intercept communications. These laws are, firstly, the Interception and Monitoring Prohibition Act, Act 127 of 1992; and secondly, the Regulation of Interception of Communications Act, Act 70 of 2002, which we fondly refer to as Rica.
An important provision of Rica is the creation of the Office For Interception Centres. This office has been in existence and operational for some time now. However, the existence of two statutes both regulating the same thing leads to legal uncertainty and creates an environment where abuses of the system can and probably do take place. For this reason we want to reiterate during this debate, for the record, that Act 127 must be repealed as a matter of urgency.
The committee has been given assurances that all outstanding problems in this regard will be resolved during this financial year. These include, hon Minister, the infamous Eskom tariffs, which require regulations to be promulgated by the hon Minister of Justice, following a determination by Icasa.
Like other hon members, including the hon chairperson of the committee, we want to take this opportunity to welcome the appointment of a new directing judge, the honourable learned Justice Swart. We are told on very good information that he is not a relative of the hon Paul Swart!
We note that the honourable Justice Swart has been appointed for just one year, or until Rica has been fully implemented, whichever comes first. So hon Minister you can see where this legal uncertainty immediately arises and the problems it creates. Clearly, therefore, the repeal of Act 127, as well as the resolution of all other outstanding anomalies and problems assumes significant importance.
The interception of communications using legal directives and warrants obtained from a senior judge is a crucial tool we have placed in the hands of our security services. It is essential that they are able to do so effectively and without hindrance because they do so to prevent crime and to promote national security, amongst other things. We call upon all the role-players to ensure that they are indeed able to do so.
I want to join the hon Minister and the hon chairman, Dr Cwele, in paying tribute to the role played by Mr Mohammed Jhatham, head of the National Communications Centre who is present in the House today. It is not normal of us, as you know Chairperson, to name officials during debates in the House because, obviously, they are unable to defend themselves except in situations like these, but in his case we do so with pleasure.
We pay tribute to Mohammed Jhatham for having led this strategic facility with integrity. We thank him for having developed our communications centre, which is probably the envy of many developed countries. South Africa owes Mohammed Jhatham a huge debt of gratitude. [Applause.] To the support staff of the Joint Standing Committee on Intelligence, we extend our thanks and praise for a job well done. Thank you. [Applause.]
Mr P J GROENEWALD
END OF TAKE
Mr L T LANDERS
Mr P J GROENEWALD: Chairperson, I just want to say to the member that I am not a member of the Joint Standing Committee on Intelligence, so I can speak freely today.
Ek wil vir die agb Landers sê dat hy nie moet sleg voel in terme van afluistering in die vorige bedeling nie. Ek was ook afgeluister in die vorige bedeling en na gekyk en al daardie tipe van goed. Ek weet nie wat se gevaar ek ingehou het nie, maar ek was ook een van daardie slagoffers, as ons dit so kan stel.
I want to come back to the hon Minister. I must say, hon Minister, my political intelligence agents tell me that this was actually your farewell speech as far as the Budget Vote is concerned. [Interjections.] I received a message that comes from Polokwane. Members, I don't know what your agents are telling tell you, but I just want to say that I have respect for the hon Minister and his handling of his portfolio. Although I am not a member of the committee, we also had some good communication when it was necessary and so on, and I wish him well in whatever he is going to do.
Voorsitter, ek wil kom by die kern van die probleem. Wat is die taak van die Nationale Intelligensie Agentskap? Die taak van 'n intelligensie agentskap is om inligting in te samel, om te weet as daar 'n probleem gaan ontstaan. Ek sien dat die Direkteur-Generaal van Intelligensie sê dat hulle was al teen Januarie bewus van die probleme veral in Alexandra.
Dit skep die indruk dat die intelligensie agentskap sy werk gedoen het in terme van onstabilitiet wat kan ontstaan in Suid-Afrika. My vraag aan die agb Minister is, en ek wil graag hê hy moet antwoord wanneer u netnou reageer, asseblief: wat was gedoen sedert Januarie toe die intelligensie mense optel daar is probleme in Alexandra? Het u dit gaan rapporteer aan die kabinet? Het u dit gerapporteer aan die Minister van Veiligheid en Sekuriteit?
Ek weet die Minister van Veiligheid en Sekuriteit het gisteraand op televisie gesê, "We are still studying the situation". Maar ek wil net vir die agb Minister van Veiligheid en Sekuriteit sê, "You will still be studying the situation and then you won't be there anymore to study the situation."
Die probleem is, as die kabinet ingelig was oor die moontlike probleem en hulle het niks gedoen nie, dan wil ek vandag vir u sê dat dit eintlik 'n misdaad is teen die mense van Suid-Afrika en 'n misdaad is teen daardie slagoffers wat nou vermoor word as gevolg van die gebrek aan optrede van die kabinet en die regering.
As hulle sê hulle het wel opgetree, dan moet ons vir hulle vra in watter mate hulle opgetree het; want as hulle sê hulle het opgetree dan is dit baie duidelik dat hulle onbevoegd is om 'n situasie, soos wat daar tans plaasvind, te kon hanteer. Dan is die verdere vraag: Wat is die regstellende stappe wat gedoen gaan word?
Maar laat ons met mekaar eerlik wees, die probleem wat nou tans in die land plaasvind, is besig om uit te brei. Ons weet dit begin nou orals uitslaan. Die vraag is: wat is die optrede van die regering? Ek weet die agb Minister van Verdediging was ook hier.
'n AGB LID: Wat doen jy, wat doen jy?
Mnr P J GROENEWALD: Ek is nie die Minister nie. As ek die Minister was, sou ek baie kon gedoen het. Stel my in daardie posisie aan en dan kyk julle wat gebeur. [Tussenwerpsels.] [Tyd verstreke.]
The HOUSE CHAIRPERSON (Mr G Q M Doidge): Hon Bloem and hon Groenewald, when you have finished with your bantering then maybe we will recognise the hon C V Burgess.
Mr C V BURGESS
END OF TAKE
Mr P J GROENEWALD
Mr C V BURGESS: Thank you, Chairperson, hon Minister, members of the intelligence services, all the director-generals, the Director-General of the South African Secret Service, the Director-General of the National Intelligence Agency, NIA, the generals of Defence Intelligence, the Deputy Minister of Correctional Services, who was also a member of our committee at some time, heads of the spending agents of NIA, there are so many of you here and I do not have enough time to mention you all, the inspector-general and his staff, members of our staff, the Joint Standing Committee on Intelligence, members of Parliament and all visitors.
I think we are all in agreement that there can now be no doubt that civil oversight over our intelligence services and agencies is a necessary function. Indeed, the wise drafters of our Constitution have specifically included such a provision to enhance our democracy. Now, as the JSCI, and I am sure all my colleagues will agree, we strive to carry out this constitutional mandate. The intelligence agencies will confirm, and we have heard from the Minister, that our approach has always been one driven by professionalism and objectivity.
In this regard, we have both benefited from the oversight process. The agencies and services and the Minister and the Inspector-General for Intelligence will agree that this interaction has strengthened everyone's understanding of their respective mandates.
However, the problem arises when agencies which gather intelligence operate outside any form of oversight and authority, and we have seen this with the Directorate of Special Operations, DSO.
The Committee has, over the past years, been concerned about the intelligence functions of the DSO and the lack of oversight over their activities. At first the DSO denied that it was conducting intelligence, but later on it admitted to the committee that it was indeed involved in intelligence gathering operations. However, notwithstanding this admission, the DSO never ever stopped. The position became even more disturbing since some of the members of the DSO were not vetted by NIA, as required by law. The hon Judge Khamphepe stated in this regard that there can be little debate that this practice is unacceptable and may ultimately prove to undermine the security of the state.
Judge Khamphepe also found that the special investigators in the DSO did not undergo the necessary security screening required by law and that they were, under the circumstances, a potential security risk to the country. This was in 2006.
Needless to say, the JSCI was not surprised when a learned judge found, like the JSCI, that the DSO was involved in intelligence gathering activities and that this was contrary to its mandate and as such unlawful. So we as a nation must ask ourselves this question: What law allows for such unlawful conduct to be condoned? Should we as a nation now be shocked by the emergence of the consolidated Browse Mole report, which is a product of the DSO? The JSCI is concerned that little or no action was taken in respect of the findings and recommendations contained in our special report on the investigation that was directed at the Browse Mole report. [Interjections.]
In comparison with the DSO - and this is where the JSCI had no mandate to oversee - we have regularly interacted with Crime Intelligence. We have visited their various divisions and received regular briefings in respect of matters falling within their mandate. Crime Intelligence does not operate on a high media exposure mentality because they prefer a more subtle approach to their contribution towards the fight against crime, their successes do not always reach the media and the eyes and ears of the public. But make no mistake; the JSCI acknowledges their contribution towards the fight against crime, which is a meaningful and valued one.
The JSCI is particularly impressed with Crime Intelligence's successes in the fight against violent crimes. It should be noted that there has been a marked turn-down in cash-in-transit robberies as a consequence of the involvement of Crime Intelligence. Crime Intelligence has also, through its intelligence operations, assisted in the arrest of many suspects involved in the bombing of Automated Teller Machines. Large quantities of plastic chargers and detonators were seized in this regard.
The JSCI has noted with concern the increase in violent crimes. We had briefings from crime intelligence in this regard and we were given the assurance that the fight to eradicate violent crimes is one of the priorities of Crime Intelligence as informed by the priority programmes of the SA Police Service. So we, as the JSCI, encourage Crime Intelligence to continue with its excellent work, and we trust that they will get the support from other agencies and also the community.
Lastly, I turn to one of the spending agents of NIA, the South African National Academy for Intelligence, SANAI, which is an institution that deals with the education of our intelligence agencies. They have a new principle, and the committee is impressed with the new financial controls that this new principal has instituted. There is a new programme for cadets based on discipline - something that was not in existence before. There is greater working relationship with management, which has improved the morale of staff.
However, there are matters outstanding regarding the accreditation of courses. There is also a matter of discipline concerning one of the previous officials that still has to be finalised. Nevertheless, the JSCI shall continue to monitor the present encouraging improvements at SANAI and will report to the House on such events. Thank you, Chairperson. [Applause.]
Mr D V BLOEM
END OF TAKE
Mr C V BURGESS
Mr D V BLOEM: Chairperson, my blood is boiling and I am telling you, but for now, I won't do it. [Interjections.] I want to ask for permission one day, hon Minister, that you must put me in a cell with Pieter Groenewald just for a day, and he will talk the truth. When we come out there you will be a better person, I promise you, hon member. [Laughter.] I am very disappointed.
Thank you very much for affording me the opportunity to address this House. Let me greet all of you in the name of the ANC, the oldest liberation movement in Africa, the movement of great leaders such as Chief Albert Luthuli, Oliver Tambo, Chris Hani, Z R Mahabane, Braam Fischer and Nelson Mandela.
I think it is very important for me to say this: As a nation we must never ever make the mistake of forgetting our leaders who sacrificed their whole lives to make it possible for us to sit in this House and debate on anything in the country. Today we can sit under one roof and talk about the future of our country with people who were once our bitter enemies. But Pieter, I am going to ask for that permission for us to go to the cell.
Allow me to single out one such great leader who has worked tirelessly day and night to ensure that our country has peace and security. I want to salute my father, my comrade and my hero, Comrade Joe Nhlanhla. [Applause.]
We know Comrade Joe Nhlanhla suffered a stroke many years ago. I want to say, thank you very much to Comrade Joe for all that he has done for this country. [Applause.] I personally, will never forget your contribution, Comrade Joe.
Maybe many of you in this House are not even aware that Comrade Joe is the architect of the structure that we have today. I am talking about the Joint Standing Committee on Intelligence, the civilian oversight body over our intelligence community. It is Comrade Joe's product - Intelligence.
I must say from the onset that the ANC will support this Budget Vote. In fact, we will ask for a bigger budget, for more. Sometimes I wonder if we really give our intelligence agencies the necessary attention and support they deserve. No country can ever measure the value of security against money. If we want an effective intelligence service, then we must give them the necessary tools to do their work.
I can say without any doubt that in the past our services had many important breakthroughs. I am very sure that it could not have happened without the dedicated men and women who are not out to make headlines on our television screens or to be on the front pages of our newspapers but who are doing their work. They are men and women doing very difficult work under very difficult circumstances.
When anything goes wrong in our country the first ones to be blamed will be our intelligence services. I was listening to one political commentator or analyst by the name of Prince Mashele – Mr Landers has also mentioned him. He was saying that our intelligence services have let us down during this recent violence in our townships. He was putting the blame for this violence at the doorstep of the services.
I must totally disagree with him on that point. I think that our intelligence services are on top of the situation and they know what they are doing. Let me also take this opportunity to thank each and every member of the intelligence community for their dedication and hard work to secure safety and security in our country and wish all of them success during this difficult and challenging period in our country.
Lastly, Mr Paul Swart, your organisation is not taking Intelligence seriously. You are alone there in your benches. Why? There is no television, it is only "spooks" there. You are scared that we are going to get at you. [Interjections.] That is why they are not here. You must tell your leader that they are not taking Intelligence seriously. You are alone. It is a fact that you are alone. I can see that at least of Mr Bhengu's party there are three here. But even the PAC is not here. The ACDP was on the list and they are not here, and all other parties ... [Interjections.] You've had your chance.
I will also ask permission for you to be put in a cell with me. [Interjections.] Yes, a single cell, not a communal cell but a single one. No escape. You must tell your party hon Pieter, all the things that you ...
Laat ek Afrikaans met jou praat, want jy sal dit beter verstaan. [Tussenwerpsels.] Al die dinge wat jy hier gesê het, Pieter ... Jy moet asseblief verstaan dat hierdie mense is nie daar vir publisiteit nie. Hierdie mense is daar om hulle werk te doen. Hulle is nie polisielede wat daar is in die strate rond te hardloop nie. Hulle doen hul werk. Voorsitter, baie dankie. [Applous.]
The HOUSE CHAIRPERSON (Mr M B Skosana): Hon member, before I call upon the Minister, I just want to exercise my prerogative to acknowledge Mr Joe Nhlanhla because I only just heard when I came in that he was here. [Applause.] The Minister will know that I served with him in Cabinet and there is a story that I just simply want to tell you about Comrade Joe.
I use to sit next to him and had a very heavy fountain pen that I used when writing. Every time he looked at it, he'd picked it up and say, "Why is it so heavy?" [Laughter.] I would just say, "No, it is okay." Then he would leave it. I would come back with it and he would pick it up again and say, "What do you have in here?" Now that was intelligence, you see! [Laughter.]
THE MINISTER OF INTELLIGENCE
END OF TAKE
Mr D V BLOEM
The MINISTER OF INTELLIGENCE: Chairperson, I take it in terms of the fluctuation of the Rand and the fluctuation of time that I have at least 10 minutes.
The HOUSE CHAIPERSON (Mr M B SKOSANA): You have seven minutes.
The MINISTER OF INTELLIGENCE: I will do my best. Let me first thank the hon Bloem for acknowledging Joe Nhlanhla. When I was speaking, he wasn't in the House and I would have acknowledged him then because, in fact, Charperson and hon members, we really need to pay tribute, first of all to the first Minister who had the charge and responsibility of Intelligence at Cabinet level at the time when Joe Nhlanhla was the Deputy Minister, and that was Dullah Omar.
We then had Joe Nhlanhla who, as it has been correctly said, was the key architect of the intelligence services' approach in our country; and then, of course the hon Lindiwe Sisulu, who succeeded Joe. So we pay tribute to the work that they have done in developing the policy aspects and the responsibilities relating to the intelligence services. So I salute you, Joe, and am looking forward to seeing you, as we do everybody here, afterwards at the cocktails.
Let me first thank everybody, each and every member, for their contributions here. Time obviously is not going to allow one to deal with everything, but we always take the notes and all members as they know will get responses from me in writing.
I really want to thank the chairperson for his very admirable overview and his final point that the government has, in fact, delivered to the poor and will continue to do so, really resounds in the face of the problems we face in terms of delivery, in terms of poverty eradication and in terms of this violent conduct that we've seen.
So whatever we see in terms of the unpardonable actions, let's bear in mind that we can't reach everybody in terms of delivery all at once, or even in 10 or 12 or 14 years. I want to come back to the key questions . . .
The HOUSE CHAIRPERSON (Mr K O Bapela): Hon Minister, I am informed that your fluctuating rand has given you three more minutes! [Laughter.]
The MINISTER OF INTELLIGENCE: Chairperson, thank you. Well, you see, the rand fluctuates and it's down, so thank you. That will help.
I want to say to the hon Paul Swart, I would say in a committee that obviously is dominated by the ruling party we have had a couple members here, both him and the hon Bhengu, who played a very important role by being at all the meetings. We have listened carefully to them and one really appreciates the work they have done and the tone in which they have raised questions. Where they have praised, it is very much appreciated and they will know that when there is criticism, it is taken very seriously by their colleagues on the committee, by the services and, of course, by the Minister.
Your report card with the pros and cons, and especially the cons, are well-noted here, hon member. In relation to so many of the points you made, aspects of criticism of fellow Ministers, I will convey that to them, and your points about the Protection of Information Bill and the problems of COMSEC and so on.
I will certainly say the same to hon Bhengu, but I will come back and at the end as soon as I have dealt with a few other preliminaries, to the questions raised by both hon Swart and hon Bhengu and by most Ministers about the question of how do we understand the question of what's been taken, and certainly ...
. . . die vrae van die agb Pieter Groenewald.
We will come to that particular question, I am not shirking anything whatsoever.
Let me just quickly say that in terms of the other points made, the hon Landers made several points about interceptions and recapped on the various Acts and about the Justice department needing to resolve the problems, the Telkom tariffs and so on. And we can assure him that we will be moving - and it is obviously the Justice department that will repeal that Act 127 - on the resolution of all the other problems.
I'd like to come then, taking into account the hon Mgabadeli and Burgess's inputs, which were also very positive, to trying to deal in a few minutes with a couple of questions that have come up and which, of course, our whole country is concerned with.
We don't shirk from the questions. When hon Mgabadeli talks about Auden and his poem and makes references to that workers' saint and there is the line: "He liked a drink", it certainly calls to mind a Shakespearean statement in a play, King John, from the 14th centurywho laments the failures of his intelligence services because they get into a pickle. He has a crisis and he says: "Oh where, o where hath mine intelligence slept. And where have they drunk?" I assure the members that he is not saying that they shouldn't sleep in funny places or drink in the taverns. He was actually saying this time they have got it wrong, so which particular places and beds were they sleeping in and in which taverns were they drinking that they didn't come up with the right information.
In defence of the agencies, they may have been working flat out and around the clock and doing their level best, but I'll tell you something, as much as we know about problems that have been faced in this peninsula here and around the city by the Somali traders - and indeed NIA and Nicoc have made studies and have provided papers - they haven't in a sense been so different from academics and sometimes journalists. We have socioeconomic problems here and we have a huge influx of foreigners and in that climate, in that environment, something is going to happen.
The point is: Can we predict it? Could it have been predicted that last night when there was going to be a meeting to discuss with the local people in Cape Town, the question of this and to try and create calm from politicians, that there would in fact be a sudden outburst- spontaneous, hidden hand. Of course, we have to find these things and nobody should say – and I am not saying this has been said here, but if it said that there are some elements manipulating in the background, that they don't exist. We would be naive to think otherwise. Of course, one is saying that there are basic objective conditions and that the overall strategic insights have been provided and indeed Cabinet, the President, the Ministers in the security cluster have been engaged with this. And NIA has been engaged with Crime Intelligence in terms of that there are these possibilities, what more can we find out? If the outbursts are spontaneous then it is extremely difficult to discover. A spontaneous outburst happens.
I was on the East Rand a couple of days ago at one of the police stations and spoke to an extremely bright station commander, incredibly helpful, who was stationed outside the huge hostels. The hostel dwellers were there and we spoke to them, I and the Minister of Safety and Security. We went to the town hall, where people had fled to after being chased away. We met both groups. That police station commander said to me that he has never ever experienced in over 30 years of his career a situation where the indunas of a hostel did not know what was brewing. He said to me this is something new and this is the youngsters of 26 and under. Those who are 30 and over they have the discipline, they have respect, they take the instructions and the discipline of the indunas. But he said there is something wrong with the much younger people. The younger people were, according to him, clearly in a day or two preceeding the attacks on the East Rand, making preparations.
He said the those indunas did not know. We spoke to the chief induna as well. He gave us the problems that they experience and see from the hostel. They were saying the obvious things. There is crime and foreigners are here and they were the ones responsible for crime. We know that that is not the case and that there are elements from all angles. I am trying to say to you - all members raised this question - we must, as an intelligence service strive to be able to say that Brutus and Cassius are plotting to assassinate Caesar on the Ides of March and not be journalists that come afterwards and say Caesar has been struck down.
Very often that is the case; not because of want of trying, not because of the commitments and the hard work, but it is not always that easy or possible. By the way, even when we are fed with certain intelligence such as this ...
The HOUSE CHAIRPERSON: Hon Minister, your time is expired.
The MINISTER FOR INTELLIGENCE: I will finish right this minute. Please give me 30 seconds. It is a question of we can see here is an objective situation. Do we actually have those intelligence agents who can sleep in the right beds and drink in the right shebeens as those who are brewing plans, who want to exploit, who will come in opportunistically, be it for criminal or economic reasons, be it because of rivalries. I am not going to use this word in the big sense of politics, I am talking about politics on the ground, at the grassroots, in communities and elements there who will want to manipulate the situation.
That is why we have heard various voices saying: Is there something behind this, which feeds into it and begins a process of organising because really, hon members and people are alluding to it, there are elements of strings being pulled. That is what the services must get to the bottom of it. Of course we must be very, very careful not to talk about perceptions, not to jump to conclusions. We must have the absolute facts. I end by saying Sotto Voce and with a little bit of joke, DGs please make sure that your people sleep in the right beds and drink in the right shebeens. Thank you. [Applause.]
The Committee rose at 11:11.
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