'Immaterial' whether I have security clearance - Bongo

2017-12-05 17:13
Minister of State Security Bongani Bongo. (Jan Gerber, News24)

Minister of State Security Bongani Bongo. (Jan Gerber, News24)

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Cape Town - State Security Minister Bongani Bongo says it is "immaterial" whether he has viewed classified state information without a proper security clearance for the top job, a parliamentary reply revealed on Tuesday.

Bongo was replying to Democratic Alliance chief whip John Steenhuisen, who had asked Bongo whether he had obtained the requisite security clearance since his appointment as minister in October.

He was also asked whether he has had access to classified state information, and under what legal provisions this was allowed, if he indeed did not have clearance.

"The State Security Agency adheres to the principles of the Minimum Information Security Standards (MISS) that provide that, 'Political appointees will not be vetted, unless the president so requests, or the relevant contract so provides.'

"In light of the above, question two becomes immaterial."

Media reports last month revealed that Bongo was under investigation by the Hawks for alleged corrupt land transactions during his time as legal adviser in the Mpumalanga provincial government.

City Press reported that the probe covered the allegedly suspicious purchase of a BMW by Bongo’s brother, using money from a conveyancer, according to a letter signed by acting Hawks head Yolisa Matakata.

The DA, at the time, questioned how Bongo could have received his clearance, with the investigation seemingly underway.

MISS was approved as national information security policy by Cabinet in 1996.

Alleged secret funding of Fees Must Fall protests

Bongo was just as coy about another controversial subject, also exposed in the media recently.

DA MP Hlomela Bucwa asked the minister whether he had been informed of a joint investigation into whether alleged Secret Service money had been used to fund aspects of the Fees Must Fall protests in 2016.

She also asked if he had spoken to Higher Education Minister Hlengiwe Mkhize and Police Minister Fikile Mbalula about the matter.

"The alleged investigation, as referred to in the article, does not fall within the ambit of State Security. The SSA further does not interfere in the lawful investigations of other mandated departments.

"Furthermore, the Minister of State Security cannot be expected to act upon every single media article that is published," he replied.

News24 revealed in October that the Inspector General of Intelligence and the Independent Police Investigative Directorate (IPID) were investigating the matter.

Eskom inquiry bribery allegations

Bongo has been in the news for all the wrong reasons in his relatively short seven-week stint as minister.

On November 19, he was accused of offering a bribe to advocate Ntuthuzelo Vanara, who is the evidence leader of Parliament’s inquiry into state capture at Eskom.

National Assembly Speaker Baleka Mbete has referred the matter to Parliament’s joint ethics committee, after receiving the information in a sworn statement.

President Jacob Zuma said last week that he had been informed of the matter and was "attending" to it. No further information was given.

Following the reports, the DA and the EFF said they would report Bongo to the Public Protector for breaking the Executive Members' Ethics Act, while the DA also laid criminal charges against Bongo.

Bongo has refused to comment on the matter.

Read more on:    da  |  ipid  |  bongani bongo

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