Ronnie Kasrils blasts ‘idiotic’ levels of secrecy

2014-08-17 15:00

Multimedia   ·   User Galleries   ·   News in Pictures Send us your pictures  ·  Send us your stories

Former minister of intelligence Ronnie Kasrils believes there is reason for concern about the “idiotic” levels of secrecy in South Africa’s department of state security.

In the past two weeks, State Security Minister David Mahlobo has classified at least two answers to parliamentary questions:

» How much money his department spent on flowers since 2009; and

»?Whether he and his colleagues attended the Soccer World Cup in Brazil and how much this cost the department.

As is customary, he did not table his replies in Parliament, but referred them directly to the joint standing committee on intelligence.

This means that the information is classified and will remain unknown to ordinary South Africans.

Kasrils spoke out about what he called this “ridiculous” secrecy and said it was “absolutely wrong and stupid”.

“This is the world of [the dictator] Big Brother in George Orwell’s 1984. For heaven’s sake, we are living in the 21st century.

“It is terribly wrong and unhelpful to reply to questions in this way and it is, in fact, not the case that everything to do with safety and security should be confidential,” said Kasrils.

Last week, City Press reported on the existence of a unit for special operations in the State Security Agency (SSA). Staffed by rogue spies, it allegedly set up campaigns to discredit civil servants and is involved in cigarette smuggling.

After these reports, Mahlobo announced this week that the inspector general of intelligence would investigate allegations of improper conduct by SSA members.

He said his department remained accountable and would do its work in the spirit of the Constitution.

Kasrils said a good start for accountability and transparency would be for the minister to answer simple parliamentary questions and make the replies public.

“What is secret about the flowers they ordered? It is so ridiculous that it is actually laughable, except for the fact that it is dangerous because it promotes paranoia and secrecy.”

Kasrils said extreme secrecy was not just bad for the country and its people who had the right to know, but was also extremely damaging to the credibility of the minister and the country’s security institutions.

Kasrils said a review of the country’s intelligence institutions was essential to prevent corruption and the abuse of power.

“This is a disease that is spreading and must be stopped,” he said.

This did not mean that everything must be made public, said Kasrils.

Mahlobo’s spokesperson Brian Dube said the question was fully answered.

But because of its “nature”, it was referred to the standing committee, which would review it, he added.

Join the conversation!

24.com encourages commentary submitted via MyNews24. Contributions of 200 words or more will be considered for publication.

We reserve editorial discretion to decide what will be published.
Read our comments policy for guidelines on contributions.

24.com publishes all comments posted on articles provided that they adhere to our Comments Policy. Should you wish to report a comment for editorial review, please do so by clicking the 'Report Comment' button to the right of each comment.

Comment on this story
0 comments
Comments have been closed for this article.

Inside News24

 
/News

Book flights

Compare, Book, Fly

Traffic Alerts
Traffic
There are new stories on the homepage. Click here to see them.
 
English
Afrikaans
isiZulu

Hello 

Create Profile

Creating your profile will enable you to submit photos and stories to get published on News24.


Please provide a username for your profile page:

This username must be unique, cannot be edited and will be used in the URL to your profile page across the entire 24.com network.

Settings

Location Settings

News24 allows you to edit the display of certain components based on a location. If you wish to personalise the page based on your preferences, please select a location for each component and click "Submit" in order for the changes to take affect.




Facebook Sign-In

Hi News addict,

Join the News24 Community to be involved in breaking the news.

Log in with Facebook to comment and personalise news, weather and listings.