“The DA’s attack on this process and the administrative head of the institution without first establishing facts through appropriate channels is malicious. The DA’s cheap shot at the secretary to parliament, that he is a deployed cadre parachuted into that post, is a shallow attempt at deception,” ANC chief whip Stone Sizani said in a statement.
The Sunday Times reported that the State Security Agency has embarked on a drive to flush out spies and whistle-blowers from Parliament at the instigation of its secretary Gengezi Mgidlana.
It drew a sharp response from the the DA. The party’s deputy chief whip Mike Waters said he would demand an urgent meeting with the parliamentary oversight authority.
Waters was quoted as saying: “Mgidlana’s deployment to Parliament has been characterised by an increase in security, oppressive rules, political interference and paranoia across the precinct.”
Sizani leapt to Mgidlana’s defence, saying he was highly qualified for his post and was appointed after a transparent process involving all political parties.
“The DA’s continued political attacks on the administrative staff of Parliament, who are politically impartial professionals, and its undue meddling in the internal administrative affairs of the institutions, is mischievous and poisonous,” he said.
“On several occasions the party has directed unwarranted political attacks and unfounded accusations at the Secretary to Parliament and some of his staff on spurious grounds.”
Sizani said vetting was a normal process and was done on a continuous basis to strengthen the security of Parliament.
The Sunday Times said intelligence officers had told parliamentary staff that non-governmental organisations such as the Right2Know campaign, which was born in opposition to the Protection of State Information Bill, were agents in the employ of foreign governments and that two journalists in the parliamentary press corps were spying for France and the United States.
Right2Know spokesman Murray Hunter said his organisation was outraged at the growing securitisation of the legislature and described it as indicative of growing contempt for democratic institutions and ordinary citizens.