MPs shortlisting IGI candidates

2016-04-22 14:14

Parliament - Deliberations over candidates for the Inspector General of Intelligence began at Parliament on Friday.

Joint Standing Committee on Intelligence chairperson Connie September immediately set the ground rules.

Members of Parliament on the JSCI’s sub-committee were limited to what they could bring into the committee room and the media was given conditions for being allowed to be present.

Journalists had to sit so they could not peek into the fat lever arch files containing the 39 applications the MPs had started poring over.

In terms of the Intelligence Act, the Inspector General of Intelligence monitors intelligence and counter intelligence, must be a fit and proper South African citizen, and submit to top security clearance processes. He or she will monitor intelligence and counter intelligence of the State Security Agency, the police’s and defence force’s intelligence services.

September asked MPs to get a cup of tea and whittle the list down to five candidates.

The candidates had already been pre-sorted into categories according to whether they met the minimum requirements or not.

''For example, somebody who is a manager of a clothing store would not qualify,'' said September.

MPs were allowed to say if they disagreed with reasons for disqualification. The most common would be that information was missing from the application form.

The shortlisting comes after the post was re-advertised.  The closing date was April 13. According to the re-advertisement, identity, security and qualifications checks would be carried out. The advert did not state exactly what qualifications were required for the job.

The Democratic Alliance said earlier in April it was pleased that the process would be open because previously the African National Congress had tried to force a candidate, Cecil Burgess, on them. 

Approval of a candidate for the position required a two-thirds majority vote in Parliament, according to the Constitution. Previous attempts to secure this had failed because the ANC was just short of a two-thirds majority.

Resistence to Burgess from some quarters related to him heading a committee that produced the Protection of State Information Bill, the so-called Secrecy Bill. He was a past chairperson of the intelligence committee.

On Friday, DA MP Hendrik Schmidt said he was worried the advertisement did not state exactly which qualifications the candidate should have and felt the ''fit and proper'' requirement was too broad.

He wanted to know who had separated the candidates who did not meet the criteria and on what grounds. Roughly half the candidates had been disqualified.

September said that the secretariat had done that initial work, but Schmidt was at liberty to disagree.

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