Leadership instability, unethical conduct in intelligence services – report

President Cyril Ramaphosa visits the State Security Agency offices in Pretoria, 15 February 2019. Picture: Siyabulela Duda

Ramaphosa said that the agency’s recent past was unfortunate and there would be accountability for the wrongs that had occurred.

A high-level panel review report has revealed that unprofessional and unethical conduct were among several “challenges” within South Africa’s intelligence services, the presidency said in a statement released on Friday night.

President Cyril Ramaphosa appointed the panel in 2018 to review the country’s intelligence services.

Ramaphosa was speaking about the report to managers and members of the State Security Agency (SSA) during a visit to the entity in Pretoria on Friday.

The panel produced a report that identified challenges such as low staff morale, unprofessional and unethical conduct, leadership instability, corporate governance weaknesses – including procurement violations – and difficulties associated with the amalgamation several years ago of domestic and foreign intelligence gathering services, according to the statement.

Ramaphosa told SSA staff members that the report would be published in due course for the benefit of all South Africans, including members of the national intelligence service.

The report would also be the subject of engagement with the parliamentary joint committee on intelligence and the Inspector-General of Intelligence.

Ramaphosa said that the agency’s recent past was unfortunate and there would be accountability for the wrongs that had occurred within the intelligence services.

He called on the SSA to recommit itself to serving the people of South Africa and adhering to the rule of law.

“The visit was part of the president’s fulfilment of the commitment he made in the 2018 State of the Nation Address that he would visit all government departments,” said Ramaphosa’s spokesperson, Khusela Diko.

She said Ramaphosa was accompanied by Minister for Planning, Monitoring and Evaluation Dr. Nkosazana Dlamini Zuma, and presidency director-general, Dr Cassius Lubisi.

Ramaphosa started his visit with a meeting with Minister of State Security Dipuo Letsatsi-Duba, deputy minister Ellen Molekane and senior management, including acting director-general Loyiso Jafta.

Ramaphosa paid tribute to the “cohort of really good people [within the SSA] who are committed to the country” and said the country valued their work and what they stood for, according to the statement.

He called on intelligence staff to “reposition your own dedication and commitment” and to be ethical, committed, selfless and non-partisan in the execution of their duties.

He cautioned the intelligence services to desist from involving themselves in party political dynamics. “We want you to do things correctly, in terms of the law and corporate governance, without a deviant agenda.”

He called on the SSA to develop the human capacity and innovation to support South Africa’s national objectives.

The SSA should become a professional civilian intelligence service of which citizens could be proud, knowing the country was fully secured, said Ramaphosa.

The review panel’s report spelled out a way forward towards the rebuilding of an SSA that would be revamped, renewed and recommitted, he said.

African News Agency (ANA)

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