Sedition clause not meant to silence protest: DG

2012-03-16 19:07
Cape Town - Acting director general of state security Dennis Dlomo on Friday said a reference to sedition in the new intelligence amendment bill was not designed to give the state power to suppress social protest.

He surprised opposition MPs by insisting that any possibility of abusing the general intelligence laws amendment bill to such an end, had in fact been made impossible by another controversial draft law - the protection of state information bill.

"I know that there are those who think that the inclusion of sedition would lead to the undermining of free political expression," he told Parliament's ad hoc committee processing the bill.

"But we have made it very clear that taken together with the definition of national security the fear should cancel itself out."

The protection of state information bill gives intelligence officials the power to classify information to protect national security.

Amid public pressure, State Security Minister Siyabonga Cwele last year ordered the definition of national security in the so-called "secrecy" bill narrowed down to exclude "lawful political activity, advocacy, protest, or dissent" as cause for the intelligence community to act.

Social unrest


But critics say that this draft law and the intelligence bill - which seeks to create a single intelligence agency - point to a clear effort on the part of the administration of President Jacob Zuma to strengthen the state security apparatus, possibly for fear of social unrest.

The intelligence bill notably expands the definition of counter-intelligence to include steps to counter sedition.

Democratic Alliance MP David Maynier said the inclusion of this common law offence in the bill raises concern that it would enable the intelligence service to "gather information to counter service delivery protests".

He said Dlomo was wrong to say that when read together the two bills put political protest beyond the brief of the counter-intelligence community.

"It is disingenuous. The bill is not written like that."

Dlomo responded: "There are two elements to the issue of sedition. There is a threshold that we have.

"There are many people who are very vocal and say a lot of things, and whatever they said has been inconsequential. Those people are not of interest insofar as what we are dealing with.

"There are people who have said very little but whatever they have said has led to action.

Single intelligence agency

"Here then is the dilemma: what becomes your area of focus to ensure that you can actually attend to those issues that lead to the loss of life of South Africans who are innocent?"

The bills set out to amalgamate previously standalone departments - the National Intelligence Agency and the SA Secret Service - into the State Security Agency.

Cwele said last week running separate structures had proven expensive and inefficient, side-stepping questions about suspected political abuse of the intelligence structures and the departure of two intelligence bosses last year.

Dlomo said there may have been confusion about the correct meaning of political intelligence, adding that the bill would settle this and also make clear who set the priorities for the intelligence structures.

"We are making it clear, because there are some people who were thinking that intelligence officers were referees and players at the same time; they set their own priorities. That is not going to be the case.

"Some people thought that was the responsibility of Nicoc [the National Intelligence Co-ordinating Committee].

"It is clearly now made unambiguous that that is the responsibility of the Cabinet, as it has always been from 1995."
- SAPA
Read more on:    siyabonga cwele  |  dennis dlomo  |  legislation  |  security  |  protests
NEXT ON NEWS24X
SHARE:

Read News24’s Comments Policy

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
6 comments
Add your comment
Comment 0 characters remaining

Inside News24

 
SPONSORED CONTENT
Investment tips you need to know 2015-01-29 14:07

Ever wondered how to assess your future potential liability? Feroz Basa, Senior Portfolio Manager Old Mutual Investment Group, weighs in on all the investment tips you need to know. WATCH.

/News

Jobs in Cape Town [change area]

Property [change area]

Travel - Look, Book, Go!

Kalahari.com - shop online today

Save up to 40% on outdoor accessories!

Tents, sleeping, day packs and more. While stocks last. Shop now!

Month End Madness Sale!

Save up to 60% on across a wide range of goods from books to electronics, DVDs and many more. Sale end 31 January 2015. Shop now!

Valentine’s Day gifts – 14 Feb!

Gifts to spoil him and her. While stocks last. Shop now!

30% off fragrances

Get 30% off fragrances for him and her. While stocks last. Shop now!

Up to 30% off All Textbooks

Save up to 30% off an extensive range of prescribed textbooks for all major universities and FET colleges. Shop Now!

OLX Free Classifieds [change area]

Horoscopes
Aquarius
Aquarius

Something may come back into focus. You may get a second chance to say what needs to be said. The important focus today is to not...read more

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.