R13 bln spy fund mystery

2013-10-29 00:00

CAPE TOWN — It is a mystery how more than R13 billion allocated to South Africa’s Security Agency since 2010 had been spent, as the public accounts are missing or possibly do not even exist.

Minister in the Presidency Collins Chabane has admitted in a letter to DA MP David Maynier that the parliamentary standing committee on intelligence had not received any reports for the past three years.

According to the Intelligence Services Oversight Act, the standing committee on intelligence must annually submit a report to the presidency, Parliament and the minister of State Security (currently the presidential confidant Dr Siyabonga Cwele).

The chair of the standing committee, Cecil Burgess, is responsible for submitting the annual report.

When sister paper Beeld yesterday read the contents of Chabane’s letter to Burgess and asked him about the missing reports, Burgess said he could not comment on a letter that he had not seen, and would comment today.

Very little is known about the secretive Department of State Security, apart from their role in training the country’s security agents and being the driving force behind the Protection of State Information Bill.

In contrast to all other state departments there are no details in the government’s annual budget on how the billions allocated to the department (R13,7  billion since 2010, R4 billion this year) had been spent.

The only oversight on security agents is done by the joint standing committee on intelligence, but their meetings are held behind closed doors and the MPs who are involved may not comment on issues discussed.

This means the standing committee’s annual report is the only public oversight on how the agents are spending the billions of tax payers’ money that may legally be made public, yet these reports had not been submitted since 2010/2011.

With the members of the standing committee barred from disclosing what they know, political parties are struggling legally to publicise the fact that things may be rotten in state security.

Earlier this year DA Chief Whip Watty Watson issued an unusual and important statement asking if the presidency was delaying the publication of annual reports. Chabane’s letter is the first official reaction from the presidency on the DA’s questions since.

Maynier said it seemed that Burgess had been caught out and that he could now be in trouble, given the terms of the law, as no oversight reports had been submitted to Parliament or the presidency.

Who monitors the security agents? The public does not know what the effect or consequences were of the R13,7 billion given to the agency, Maynier said.

The DA will next ask the Speaker of the National Assembly, Max Sisulu, to intervene and order Burgess to say where the missing annual reports are.

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