Multiple passports a sticking point for Intelligence IG candidate

2016-11-08 17:12
Inspector General of Intelligence candidate professor Bruce Watson was grilled on his citizenship. (Thulani Gqirana)

Inspector General of Intelligence candidate professor Bruce Watson was grilled on his citizenship. (Thulani Gqirana)

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Cape Town – One of the candidates for the job of inspector general of intelligence faced questions about his multiple passports on Tuesday.

Stellenbosch professor Bruce Watson has two PhDs, was born in Rhodesia (Zimbabwe) to South African parents, and moved to Canada during the apartheid era, he told Parliament’s intelligence committee during interviews for the post.

He had South African, Canadian and Dutch citizenship, but he mostly viewed himself as South African.

Some committee members were "uncomfortable" with where his loyalties lay. 

DA MP Hendrik Schmidt, and ANC MPs Charles Nqakula and Dumisani Gamede spent more than 40 minutes asking Watson about his citizenship.

He was asked about his parents' reasons for moving to what was then called Rhodesia.

He said he understood MPs' nervousness about his citizenship.

"I would be willing to take the necessary steps to make sure this did not remain an issue for the committee," Watson said.

SA passport used to enter and leave SA

Nqakula asked him if all the passports were valid. Gamede asked him how he used each passport.

"I have three valid passports and I primarily use my SA passport to travel to friendly countries for academic purposes. In keeping with the law, I always leave and enter South Africa on my South African passport."

The Dutch passport, which would expire shortly, was used to enter the European Union, to save "a fortune on visa fees".

He used the Canadian passport when heading to conferences in Canada and the US.

MPs asked him about the funding of his PhDs and his movements in and out of the country.

He said the State Security Agency had, to his knowledge, never performed checks on him.

"No, I was never checked, but I wouldn’t be surprised if SSA had been poking around."

They were free to check his credentials, as he was confident nothing untoward would be found.

Read more on:    parliament  |  intelligence

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