‘Large sums of money weren't accounted for’: Zondo says AG should audit SSA finances

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President Cyril Ramaphosa and Chief Justice Raymond Zondo at the final handover of the State Capture report. (Gallo Images)
President Cyril Ramaphosa and Chief Justice Raymond Zondo at the final handover of the State Capture report. (Gallo Images)
  • Chief Justice Raymond Zondo has recommended the Auditor-General investigate the State Security Agency's finances.
  • In the final report of the State Capture Inquiry, Zondo highlighted the need for greater oversight of the SSA's finances.
  • The AG has had difficulty auditing the SSA's finances as most reports and records are classified.

Chief Justice Raymond Zondo says the evidence of mismanagement at the State Security Agency (SSA) points to the need for the Auditor-General to audit the expenditure of the troubled agency.

In the final report of the State Capture Inquiry, Zondo highlighted the need for greater oversight of the SSA's finances.

Zondo was scathing on the agency, which has been plagued by mismanagement and leadership challenges.

"Large sums of money were not accounted for, yet the AG is not able to adequately fulfil its role because some information is classified and has been withheld from the AG. This has meant that the AG has only been able to provide qualified audits," he said.

READ | Fraser and Zuma protected each other, SSA could've stopped state capture in 2011 - Zondo

Zondo added the AG had difficulty in auditing the SSA's finances as reports and records are classified.

"The arrangement between the AG and the Office Inspector General of Intelligence [OIGI] pursuant to which the AG directed the OIGI on how to carry out audits of classified material the AG was itself not able to audit, was not adequate."                                     

He said:

This is because such an audit was performed by persons without the requisite auditing skills and amounted to a box-ticking exercise without any proper analysis. The arrangement between the AG and the SSA that the AG would provide a qualified report in respect of the Secret Service Account [which forms a substantial part of the budget] was also not acceptable.

Speaking on the capture of Crime Intelligence in the commission's final report, Zondo added "false and unsubstantiated reports" issued by its former boss, Richard Mdluli, "were used to remove people from their positions who stood in the way of state capture or corruption and looting of state resources".

"These considerations remind all and sundry, let alone those in power, to be cautious with intelligence reports."

He also found former president Jacob Zuma and former state security minister Siyabonga Cwele halted an investigation by the Hawks into former spy boss Arthur Fraser, paving the way for him to later be appointed director-general of the SSA and correctional services commissioner.

"The large sums of monies that were not accounted for was at least in part because the AG could not execute its duties as it should have, with the result that implicated people acted with impunity as they were aware of weaknesses in the system," Zondo said.

News24 reported in February the organised criminal networks that captured and subverted the SSA looted more than R1.5 billion between 2008 and 2018. Furthermore, they remain firmly entrenched at the agency.

READ | Questionable intelligence reports had potential to 'destabilise the country' - Zondo report

Minister in the Presidency Mondli Gungubele is in discussion with the Joint Standing Committee on Intelligence (JSCI) on the "ambit of the oversight of the AGSA over the State Security Agency, and whether this is sufficient," he said in response to a parliamentary question.

The JSCI is the parliamentary committee which is supposed to exercise oversight. It meets behind closed doors, and its members face jail time should they speak out.

Zondo said: "It is now appropriate to give dulled evidence of individual witnesses who gave evidence before the commission about allegations of corruption, fraud and other irregularities at SSA. There will be a certain level of repetition in what is dealt with below but that is unavoidable where an overview is first given as has been done."

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