Panel will review SA's intelligence structures, Ramaphosa announces

2018-05-08 18:26
President Cyril Ramaphosa. (Leon Sadiki, City Press)

President Cyril Ramaphosa. (Leon Sadiki, City Press)

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WATCH: Ramaphosa answers questions in Parliament

2018-05-08 14:04

President Cyril Ramaphosa is expected to take to the podium and answer questions in the National Assembly on Tuesday, most of the focus is expected to be on the economy. Watch live. WATCH

A panel will be appointed to review the functioning, effectiveness and structure of South Africa's intelligence bodies, President Cyril Ramaphosa announced when he answered questions in the National Assembly on Tuesday.

Responding to a question from Cope MP Deidre Carter, Ramaphosa said he stated during his State of the Nation Address that restoring the integrity of public institutions would be a government priority.

He said he was "deeply concerned" about allegations of corruption in the intelligence community.

Ramaphosa added that he had instructed Minister of State Security Dipuo Letsatsi-Duba to take whatever steps necessary to restore the integrity of the State Security Agency (SSA).

Similarly, he instructed Minister of Police Bheki Cele to do the same at the police and he has already appointed a head of crime intelligence - Major General Peter Jacobs. 

'Best for our people'

He said the Joint Standing Committee on Intelligence and the Inspector General of Intelligence - which oversee South Africa's intelligence bodies - must be empowered to do their work.

In a follow-up question on behalf of Carter, Cope leader Mosioua Lekota asked what guarantee Ramaphosa could give that the intelligence services would turn the corner, as it happened under his watch, while he was deputy president.

"The guarantee I can give you as we're going to do this review process, is that we're going to keep an eye on the Constitution and what is best for our people," Ramaphosa answered.

DA leader Mmusi Maimane said former head of the SSA Arthur Fraser was responsible for "gross abuses of state resources".

He pointed out that South African Revenue Service commissioner Tom Moyane was suspended, but Fraser moved to another department, that of correctional services. 

"Why is Mr Fraser given preferential treatment?" Maimane asked. "He should be in correctional services, not running one."

'Sensitivity of intelligence'

Ramaphosa said the DA took the matter to court and, while he would like to engage him on the matter, he would now have to "provide that answer through court papers". 

DA chief whip John Steenhuisen said the "sub judice excuse" was invalid. He said Maimane's question wasn't about the merits of the case, but about why Fraser was treated differently to Moyane.

Ramaphosa said he had to take into account the "sensitivity of intelligence". 

"What does he (Fraser) know?" interjected someone from the DA benches.

Ramaphosa said he thought it best to move Fraser out so that the review panel can get into "the depths of issues" at the SSA, which would include the allegations against Fraser.

In an answer to a follow-up question from ACDP MP Steve Swart, Ramaphosa said the review would "not prevent any investigation already under way from proceeding".

Read more on:    cyril ramaphosa  |  tom moyane  |  bheki cele

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