Thandi Modise. Picture: GCIS
Thandi Modise. Picture: GCIS

The EFF has threatened court action if parliament’s joint standing committee on intelligence is not constituted by Friday.

The parliamentary committee is the oversight body for SA’s intelligence structures, which include the State Security Agency and the police’s crime intelligence division. The inspector-general of intelligence also accounts to the committee.

Despite the key function of this committee, it has not been properly constituted since the general elections in May. During this time, questions have been raised about intelligence related to the xenophobic attacks and riots that have plagued parts of Gauteng.

Also, a landmark judgment was handed down in the high court last week declaring unconstitutional parts of SA’s surveillance law, the Regulation of Interception of Communications and Provision of Communication-Related Information Act (Rica). 

The EFF said in a lawyer’s letter sent on Friday to the speaker of the National Assembly that the establishment of the joint standing committee on intelligence was one of the important mechanisms for holding to account the state and its intelligence division.

“Any delay in constituting the committee is, therefore, a direct violation of the constitution,” the lawyer’s letter stated.

“It is our instruction to demand from you proper constitution of the joint standing committee on intelligence with immediate effect and by no later than Friday, 27 September 2019, failing which our client will have no alternative but to approach the high court of SA for a relevant order compelling parliament to constitute same and seek punitive costs against the speaker,” theletter said.

DA chief whip John Steenhuisen said it was “very concerning” that the j oint standing committee on intelligence had not been properly established. He could only imagine that the delay was a result of the “factional wrangling” in the ANC, he said.

The parliamentary committee was slammed in a report by the review panel appointed by President Cyril Ramaphosa in 2018. The panel said it seemed as if the committee played little role in curbing the infractions of the State Security Agency, and that no effective oversight was carried out.

The panel found that the parliamentary committee was subject to ANC factionalism.