Time running out for Parliament to deal with abuses at spy agency

With mere days left on the parliamentary calendar, Parliament’s joint standing committee on intelligence has kicked the high-level panel report into abuses at the State Security Agency (SSA) into touch.

The 100-page report, commissioned by President Cyril Ramaphosa, details “serious breaches of the Constitution, policy, law, regulations and directives” by former president Jacob Zuma and some members of the SSA.

The report recommends an overhaul of the scope and mandate of the intelligence community, something Ramaphosa already committed to during his State of the Nation address in February, saying he would take “urgent steps” to reconstitute “a professional national intelligence capability for South Africa”.

But time has all but run out for Parliament’s intelligence committee to address the findings in the report. Members of the National Assembly will be relieved of their duties from Wednesday March 20 to campaign for their political parties ahead of the general election on May 8.

Committee chairperson Amos Masondo said the issue is still on the agenda of the last week of the parliamentary term. “We are optimistic that all the complexities and challenges raised in the report will be addressed. So the committee will do its utmost to make our own contribution,” Masondo said.

But it will probably be up to the committee formed by MPs of the next legislature to do the work of launching a parliamentary probe into alleged malfeasance at the spy agency.

Masondo could only say “with confidence” that the current committee “will be handing over a legacy report. And the report will be used as the basis to engage the matters further. The report … details the issues and matters that require urgent attention,” Masondo said.

According to the report, compiled by a panel chaired by Sydney Mufamadi, the SSA targeted Ramaphosa in the run-up to his election as president of the ANC in 2017, and then as president of South Africa in February 2018 after Zuma was pushed to resign.

The report also confirms details from the book The President’s Keepers: Those Keeping Zuma in Power and Out of Prison by Jacques Pauw, corroborating the existence of a slush fund involving the SSA’s Principal Agent Network (PAN).

The report found that recommendations by the inspector general of intelligence to rein in rogue spies were ignored by the SSA and that the auditor general was not allowed to scrutinise its financial records.

On the findings that the intelligence committee had failed to perform proper oversight on the SSA, Masondo, who became its chairperson only in September, said deficiencies would have to be addressed.

“The report broadly outlines some of the key issues. But my view is that there’s scope for improvement. And I’m confident that in the coming period a lot of good work will be done,” he said.

Although the names of wrongdoers in the report have been redacted, it is clear on certain intelligence operations (including PAN) and timeframes. These timeframes overlap with the tenure of former SSA director general Arthur Fraser, who is now the national commissioner of correctional services. Media reports quote correctional services officials as saying Fraser is studying the document.

There has also been no word from Parliament’s correctional services committee on whether it will call Fraser to explain his conduct during his tenure at the spy agency. Committee chairperson Madipoane Mothapo did not respond to requests for comment.

Lester Kiewit
Lester Kiewit
Lester Kiewit is a Reporter, Journalist, and Broadcaster.

De Klerk now admits apartheid was a crime against humanity

Apartheid’s last president walks back comments that definition was a Soviet plot

February 11 1990: Mandela’s media conquest

Nelson Mandela’s release from prison was also South Africa’s first ‘media event’. And, despite the NP’s, and the SABC’s, attempt to control the narrative, the force of Madiba’s personality meant that he emerged as a celebrity

Eastern Cape MEC orders graft investigation after two workers killed...

The killing of two council workers at the Amathole district municipality appears to be linked to tender fraud and corruption

Strike-off case pulls in judge

Judge Mushtak Parker is implicated in an application to strike off his former partners. He is also involved in the fight between the Western Cape high court’s judge president and his deputy

Press Releases

Response to the report of the independent assessors

VUT welcomes the publishing of the report of the independent assessors to investigate concerns of poor governance, leadership, management, corruption and fraud at the university.

NWU student receives international award

Carol-Mari Schulz received the Bachelor of Health Sciences in Occupational Hygiene Top Achiever Award.

Academic programme resumes at all campuses

Lectures, practicals, seminars and tutorials will all resume today as per specific academic timetables.

Strategic social investments are a catalyst for social progress

Barloworld Mbewu enables beneficiaries to move away from dependence on grant funding

We all have a part to play to make South Africa work

Powering societal progress demands partnerships between all stakeholders

So you want to be a social entrepreneur?

Do the research first; it will save money and time later

Social entrepreneurship means business

Enterprises with a cause at their core might be exactly what our economy desperately needs

Looking inwards

Businesses are finding tangible ways to give back – but only because consumers demand it