No more secrecy in new inspector general interviews

The veil of secrecy around interviews for the inspector general of intelligence post has been lifted and the next step of the hiring process will be open to the public. 

This after numerous appeals for transparency from lobby groups after a round of secret interviews in March. In a letter to the lawyers of AmaBhungane, the Right2Know Campaign, the Institute for Security Studies and the Council for the Advancement of the South African Constitution, the committee chairperson said: “The JSCI [Joint Standing Committee on Intelligence] has resolved that short-listing process and the interviews will be conducted in public.”

The organisations welcomed the opening of the process, which started with the shortlisting of three more candidates for the position on Wednesday, after a call for more applications. 

With lobby groups calling for the interview process be conducted in an open and transparent way, with meaningful public participation and media access, and the Democratic Alliance walking out of the secret interviews in March, the normally secretive committee opened their meeting to the public today and shortlisted three candidates from a list of 19.

While former ANC MP Cecil Burgess was seen as the most likely candidate earlier in the year, topping the list, the process was opened up on Wednesday and Mahlubandile Radebe, Desiree Fouche and Annelize Gerber were shortlisted, bringing the number up to 11. Committee chairperson Connie September said the position was readvertised because the committee felt it was needed at the time, and not because they were not happy with the caliber of candidates.

“The committee did the interviews and felt we must do them again. The committee will interview all 11 candidates.”  The candidates were selected in a sub-committee earlier in the day, before their names were presented to the full joint committee later in the afternoon, which approved the selection. 

“The committee, as per rules, selected a sub-committee to deal with the shortlisting. Because the sub-committee can’t make the final decision, they had to take that to the full joint committee.  When the committee is happy with the candidates, they will then invite the applicants and make sure that the interviews start soonest.”

Burgess, who chaired the intelligence committee in Parliament and was also appointed to the ad hoc committee that looked into the spending of taxpayers’ money on upgrading President Jacob Zuma’s private Nkandla home, is up against little known candidates Clinton Davids, Mathe Diseko, Smanga Jele, Jayashree Govender, Imtiaz Fazel, Andile Kilifele and Mampogoane Nchabeleng who were also shortlisted and interviewed for the position.

Diseko is the former coordinator for the National Intelligence Co-ordinating Committee.  Both Jele and Govender work in the inspector general’s office, Jele as a principal oversight officer, and Govender as the legal advisor.

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