Dlodlo wants to rebuild SSA image, but 'Zuma's spy' Dlomo still at the agency

2019-07-18 20:50
Ayanda Dlodlo. (GCIS)

Ayanda Dlodlo. (GCIS)

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State Security Minister Ayanda Dlodlo says her first priority is to work tirelessly to rebuild the image of the State Security Agency (SSA).

Controversial spy and former ambassador Thulani Dlomo, however, remains a member of the agency.

At a briefing ahead of her budget vote speech on Thursday, Dlodlo said the SSA "for the longest time has suffered untold reputational damage and [damage to its] credibility in the eyes of our citizens".

In March, the Presidency released a high level panel report that investigated the functioning of the SSA. It proved to be a bombshell, with several damaging findings about the agency being revealed.

One of the people implicated in the report was Dlomo whom former president Jacob Zuma appointed as ambassador to Japan in 2017. He was recalled by President Cyril Ramaphosa in January this year. 

Of the SSA's special operations (SO) under Dlomo - who famously told colleagues he reported directly to Zuma - the panel said: "It is clear from the above information and other information available to the panel that the SO had largely become a parallel intelligence structure serving a faction of the ruling party and, in particular, the personal political interests of the sitting president of the party and country. This is in direct breach of the Constitution, the white paper, the relevant legislation and plain good government intelligence functioning."

The report recommended that operations undertaken under Dlomo - including spying on unions and civil society organisations, the creation of a fake union in Marikana, influencing the media and conducting politically motivated projects - should be investigated by a multidisciplinary task team with an eye on criminal prosecutions.

Asked about Dlomo's status at the SSA, acting director-general Loyiso Jafta said: "He remains a member of the SSA."

When pressed further about whether disciplinary steps have been taken against Dlomo, Jafta said he could not comment on matters relating to personnel in public.

Another of the high level panel report's recommendation was that the SSA should be divided into two agencies - one working internationally and the other locally.

Dlodlo said in this regard there would be two directors-general, adding this was the president's prerogative, in consultation with the Cabinet.

She was, however, not sure when this would happen.

"But I'm sure that it will be pretty soon because it also speaks of the unbundling of the SSA."

Dlodlo said the report would be implemented.

"It will be a staggered approach to the implementation of the high level panel report. There are immediate tasks that we'll need to look into, like for instance the climate and the culture of the organisation.

"There are short-, medium- and long-term things that we need to implement according to the recommendations. That depends on a few things, the budget. Look at the budget that we have compared with same-sized organisations across the globe with the same type of problems we have, you will see that we fare badly, so it will depend on the budget. 

"But it will also depend on the type of skills we have in the organisation. That is also the reason that we are going through a skills audit, but also placing people in positions where their competencies are most required." 

She said it would look at several mechanisms to help it implement the high panel review.

Dlodlo added she had "no appetite" for political interference.

"We will deal with issues that relate to our mandate in an impartial fashion. I don't think we can completely run away from the politics because that's what we are about, but the politicisation in an adverse fashion is what we will guard against."

She said that was why it would introduce a framework on ethics and integrity as well as appoint ethics officers in the organisation.

Read more on:    state security agency  |  ayanda dlodlo

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