Union to meet Parliament over vetting of officials

2015-10-20 21:53
File: AFP

File: AFP

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The management of Parliament is set to meet the union Nehawu on Wednesday to shed light on new vetting procedures that parliamentary employees are being subjected to.

According to the union, it wanted to make sure its members were not disadvantaged in the process.

The process has come under fire, especially due to the involvement of the State Security Agency.

According to Parliament, no complaints had been received from employees about the process, but some staff members told Media24 that they were worried about the little time they had in which to submit all their personal information and documents. According to them, the information that was required included information on outstanding debts, bank statements and other personal information.

Parliament has consistently rejected media reports alleging the renewed vetting was part of a witch-hunt to get rid of whistle-blowers. The Democratic Alliance has already asked for an urgent meeting of Parliament’s oversight authority to clarify the role of the SSA agents – something Mike Waters, DA deputy chief whip, believed was a “violation of the principle of separation of powers”.

Waters was responding to claims in the media that the SSA agents set up office in Parliament and may establish an in-house press review panel.

Letebele Jones, parliamentary spokesperson, said the SSA agents had been given an office to complete their work for the duration of the process, but that talk of a media review panel was “preposterous, ludicrous and a fabrication”.

The ANC on Monday also defended the vetting process. Moloto Mothapo, ANC caucus spokesperson, accused the DA of political interference in the internal administrative affairs of Parliament.

“On several occasions the party has directed unwarranted political attacks and unfounded accusations at the secretary of Parliament and some of his staff on spurious grounds.”

He described the DA’s actions as malicious.

But other parties, such as the Inkatha Freedom Party, also expressed concern over the vetting process.

United Democratic Movement leader Bantu Holomisa said he was not surprised at the presence of the SSA agents.

“The country is run by [Jacob] Zuma and his securocrats. The role of national intelligence has never been explained. Why would they do it now? I wouldn’t be surprised if some staff members came from there. These are old National Party tactics the Zuma government is using for its own narrow interests. The only way to stop it is if we have a new government.”

SSA spokesperson Brian Dube said queries should be addressed to Parliament.

“This is a parliamentary process. We are there because Parliament asked us to assist.”

Jones said the State Security Agency was in terms of the law the body that was authorised to conduct vetting exercises of officials in state organs. “This exercise is conducted legally in terms of the relevant provisions of the law.”

Read more on:    nehawu  |  ssa  |  cape town  |  parliament 2015

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