Ayanda Dlodlo. Picture: THE SOWETAN
Ayanda Dlodlo. Picture: THE SOWETAN

The department of state security is developing a proposed law to prevent the use of intelligence officers for nefarious purposes, including political interference.

This was revealed by state security minister Ayanda Dlodlo during a question-and-answer session between MPs and ministers in the peace and security cluster in the National Assembly on Wednesday.

During the presidency of Jacob Zuma the state security services were used to fight factional political battles. There was also widespread looting of state funds a few years ago by the State Security Agency.

“We are in the process of developing new legislation that will tighten any possibility that might arise for nefarious activities to be performed by intelligence officers. I am dealing with matters in the department that deal with that interface between the political and the members of the organisation. There are cases before us that are under investigation,” Dlodlo said.

She was also asked questions by EFF MP Mbuyiseni Ndlozi about the notorious so-called Sars rogue unit. The National Prosecuting Authority has decided that there are no reasonable prospects for a successful prosecution about the matter, which is also the subject of an ongoing court battle between public protector Busisiwe Mkhwebane and public enterprises minister Pravin Gordhan.

Gordhan was Sars commissioner when the rogue unit was established. Mkhwebane has ordered President Cyril Ramaphosa to take action against Gordhan, who is contesting her report.

Ndlozi wanted to know “whether it is in the best interest of national security that institutions of state establish intelligence units that are neither sanctioned by the president or the statutes of the republic nor accountable to parliament; if not what steps does she intend taking against those who establish such intelligence units?”

The EFF has been persistent in its campaign against Gordhan including for his alleged role in regard to the unit.

Dlodlo said the matter of the rogue unit was before the court and as she had been cited as one of the respondents she could not say more on the matter.

She explained that the constitution dictated that security services must be structured and regulated by national legislation. Intelligence units may be established only by the president in terms of national legislation. The  president must also appoint the head of each intelligence service and must appoint and designate a member of cabinet to assume the political responsibility.

“The establishment of intelligence units that are neither sanctioned nor established by the president are unconstitutional and illegal and contrary to the good government intelligence function,” Dlodlo said. “It is not in the purview of this minister to oversee the activities of other institutions of state. The executive responsibility therefore rests with the president as the head of state.… I cannot investigate such actions if they do occur.”

She said that the National Strategic Intelligence Act defined departmental intelligence as intelligence concerned with any threat or potential threat to national security which falls within the functions of the department and needed by it to neutralise such a threat.

The act also says that any department that gathers any information does not have the right to gather information or intelligence in a covert manner, Dlodlo said.

ensorl@businesslive.co.za

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