Overhaul for SA's intelligence capacity

Thursday, December 3, 2009
By: 
Nthambeleni Gabara

Pretoria - President Jacob Zuma has warned that South Africa is not immune to state security threats, necessitating the formation of adequate institutions to counter them.

"These lead us to undertake a comprehensive review of legislation governing intelligence structures, ethics of work, quality of intelligence products and the infrastructure required to be efficient," Zuma said today during the commemoration of Intelligence Services Day.

"We also plan to improve the capacity of intelligence through an increase in spending on technical capacities and tradecraft training. We are also guided by the objective to build an 'intelligence officer for life," he said.

The President said there was a need to develop sustainable mechanisms to retain skilled personnel, adding that this would enable government to build expertise and ensure the quality of intelligence work.

"Again, we need to tailor-make a strategy on how we engage the veterans of intelligence in enhancing our work, exploring the use of their past networks and employing their skills..." he said.

Zuma also emphasised the importance of early warning systems and the ability to adequately respond to the unknown be it emanating internally or elsewhere in the world.

He also highlighted the importance of establishing the national security strategy which must define clear roles for each of the security agencies.

"The national security strategy must emphasise co-operation and integration of systems amongst the departments and components of government in the fight against crime and corruption.

"It must help us to improve migration control and border management, and in this case we must move with speed in the establishment of the Border Management Agency," he said.

State Security Minister Siyabonga Cwele said they had already started to reorganise themselves, adding that they had also received support from the police, defence and public service and administration departments.

Cwele said the interim phase which runs from October this year until March 2010 is underway. Part of the interim phase is the establishment of the State Security Agency as a national department.

"We have converted the National Intelligence Agency, the South African Secret Services, the South African National Academy of Intelligence, the Electronic Communications Security into government components listed in schedule 3 of the Public Service Act," he said.

Cwele said the final phase will be realised by April 2010 and this would involve the incorporation of government components as branches into the State Security Agency.