MPs nominate Burgess for intelligence Inspector General

FILE PICTURE: ANC MP Cecil Burgess. (Photo by Gallo Images / Foto24 / Liza van Deventer)

FILE PICTURE: ANC MP Cecil Burgess. (Photo by Gallo Images / Foto24 / Liza van Deventer)

Parliament’s joint standing committee on intelligence has, as was widely expected, nominated ANC MP Cecil Burgess for appointment as the country’s new inspector general of intelligence.

“The committee met on 17 June 2015 to deliberate on the outcome of interviews and … nominated Mr Cecil Valentine Burgess to the National Assembly to recommend to the President for appointment,” according to the committee’s report published in parliamentary papers on Friday.

Burgess is a former chairman of that committee. In the role, he drew criticism for its failure to submit annual reports to Parliament for three years. The opposition charged that this hampered the committee’s ability to hold the intelligence community to account.

He also headed the parliamentary ad hoc committee that handled the passage of the contested Protection of State Information Bill — in the process for many further cementing his reputation as an intelligence hawk.

The joint standing committee on intelligence last week interviewed 11 candidates in open session, after civil society groups opposed an earlier decision to conduct the process behind closed doors.

Burgess told the committee that he believed South Africa would in coming years face increased security threats, and cited information technology and cyberspace breaches as particular areas of concerns.

He acknowledged that the need for secrecy in the intelligence community needed to be balanced with the constitutional imperative of openness and transparency but said he planned to stick to the letter of the law as it stood.

“I think the legislation is outdated and the whole issue needs to be reviewed so that one can address these problems. It might well be some of these behaviour patterns are unconstitutional, but until such time that the legislation is challenged in court, one is obliged as the office of the inspector-general to find in terms of the legislation.”

If Zuma appoints Burgess, he will replace Faith Radebe.


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