/ 9 July 2008

Nhlanhla was ‘architect of our intelligence’

President Thabo Mbeki has conveyed his and the government’s condolences to the family of late former intelligence minister Joe Nhlanhla, the Presidency said in a statement.

Nhlanhla (71) died in the Milpark Hospital in Johannesburg on July 2 after he had been in a coma for a month.

The African National Congress said in a statement: ”We dip our revolutionary banner in remembrance of Nhlanhla and wish to express our heartfelt condolences to the family and relatives.”

The Presidency said Nhlanhla was ”arguably the architect of our current intelligence architecture and its ethos of adherence to the rule of law, civil accountability and oversight”.

”In contrast with the period before 1994, this is particularly significant in that security and intelligence agencies acted as primary instruments of the doctrine of rule-by-law, gross violation of human rights and destabilisation both at home and beyond our borders,” it said.

ANC spokesperson Jessie Duarte said Nhlanhla dedicated his life to the struggle for a non-racial and non-sexist democratic South Africa. ”It is through the contribution of his extraordinary capacity of intelligence and militancy that today South Africans enjoy the benefits of a peaceful democratic country.”

Nhlanhla’s commitment to the struggle will always be honoured and remembered by the ANC and the rest of the country, the ANC said.

Joseph Mbuku Nhlanhla was born on December 4 1936 in Sophiatown near Johannesburg. He attended Ikage primary school in Alexandria and matriculated from the Kilnerton Training Institute.

He joined the ANC and its youth wing, the ANC Youth League, in 1957 and was elected on to the league’s Transvaal executive a year later.

In early 1964, he left the country for the Soviet Union where he completed a master’s degree in economics in Moscow in 1969. However, he never worked as an economist.

That same year he was appointed head of the ANC’s youth and student headquarters in Tanzania, a post in which he served for five years before being chosen as the organisation’s chief representative in Egypt and the Middle East in 1973.

In 1978, the ANC posted him to its Lusaka headquarters as national administrative secretary. Three years later he was elected a member of the ANC national executive committee.

In 1986, he joined the organisation’s intelligence directorate after serving a three-year stint as secretary to the political military council.

He was appointed ANC intelligence chief in July 1987 and still held that post in 1989 when he was a member of the four-man ANC group headed by Mbeki that made contact with the apartheid government.

From 1990, he served on the ANC team tasked with removing obstacles to negotiations and sat on the interim government sub-committee at the Codesa talks.

In 1994, he was elected a member of the National Assembly and on February 22 the following year, he was appointed deputy minister of intelligence services.

Nhlanhla was appointed by Mbeki as minister of intelligence in 1999, a position he held until he retired due to ill health. — Sapa