Intelligence debate after bill - Cwele

2012-03-09 16:15

Cape Town - A much-needed rewrite of South Africa's white paper on intelligence will come after an amendment bill laying down the framework for integration of the spy services, State Security Minister Siyabonga Cwele said on Friday.

"The 1995 white paper needs to be transformed; it was written in a hurry," he said after briefing MPs on the general intelligence laws amendment bill.

"We need to review it because things have changed since then in the world of intelligence."


Cwele insisted that this bill was technical in nature and aimed at streamlining intelligence structures. It did not need to be preceded "by a long policy debate", he said.

"It is about making structures workable. We need to move away from a plethora of structures that are not assisting us in gathering intelligence."

He said the separation of foreign and local intelligence gathering had led to an increase in corporate support structures that sapped his ministry's budget and undermined its work.

The bill amalgamates previously standalone departments - the National Intelligence Agency and the SA Secret Service - into the State Security Agency.

"We are transforming our service. It is about saving us [money]. It has nothing to do with squabbles," he said, referring to last year's departure of two top intelligence officials.

The white paper redraft will be followed by the tabling of the state security bill sometime next year that will entrench policy changes, the minister said.

He rejected objections from the opposition that by taking this route he was putting the cart before the horse, because the bill itself charted a new policy direction.

Debate 'urgent'

Democratic Alliance MP David Maynier said the policy debate was overdue because the proposed changes break with the post-1994 order, by centralising the intelligence structures and consolidating power in the hands of the minister.

"We need to have the debate now. It is urgent."

Maynier noted that the bill makes provision for dealing with the common law offence of sedition, and said this too pointed to a new way of thinking.

"My concern is that the intelligence services will under the new expanded counter intelligence mandate begin to gather information to counter service delivery protests," said Maynier.

He asked Cwele whether the 2008 Matthews Report - a ministerial review that warned the intelligence services are afflicted by excessive secrecy and political abuse - would form part of deliberations.

Cwele said that it had no particular status.

"We are taking all reports into account," he said.

The ad hoc committee processing the bill on Friday rejected a request from the Institute for Security Studies to extend the March 16 deadline for submissions on the bill to April 10.

  • Morne - 2012-03-09 17:15

    The intelligence agency in this country is of no use anyway! Never heard anyting intelligent from them, i didnt even know they exsist to tell you the truth. Can anyone refresh my mind to what they have done before?

      Alf - 2012-04-12 07:10

      His ex wife was up on drug pushing charges and Cwele did not know about it, by his own admission. So much for intelligence. Leonardb1 is right intelligence in connection with this or other government department like police, justice, education to name a few, is a contradiction in terms. Between them they struggle to manage a double digit IQ.

  • maseratifittipaldi - 2012-03-09 17:23

    "The 1995 white paper needs to be transformed..." 80% of it must bee black.

  • david.lebethe - 2012-03-09 17:31

    I agree with sentiments that our intelligence capacity is up to scratch. The fact that there are fugitives who ran away from their countries and come and settle here without trace is indicative of poor capacity and planning on the part of our intelliegence and by extension, the Anc government. It is self-inducing to think that we have intelligence in this country.

  • Cracker - 2012-03-09 17:48

    Why the self-amusement at the expense of the ordinary people? Their taxes for silly spy v spy games. Purchase electronic games if the urge for childishness gets too much.

  • Scouter - 2012-03-09 18:33

    In Africa intelligence agencies quickly become a vital instrument of the ruling party rather than what they should be,which is a vital instrument of the State. CIO in Zim exists to serve Mugabe & ZANU(PF)interests and no one else, by way of example. It will never change in the Third World. It wasn't any different in SA under the Nats either - before anyone tries to turn this comment racial/political.

  • Fussed - 2012-03-09 20:11

    intelligence in the inteligance agency, you gotta be kidding. These guys havent the intelegance to split a pea between the whole lot of them

  • pages:
  • 1