The State Security Agency (SSA) has referred five corruption cases to the police for investigation and prosecution, Deputy State Security Minister Zizi Kodwa has said.
Kodwa warned against “information peddlers” as the recent revelations about the SSA at the Zondo Commission dominated the entity’s budget vote debate.
He himself features prominently in testimony before the commission.
Kodwa delivered the budget vote speech in ill State Security Minister Ayanda Dlodlo’s stead in a virtual mini-plenary of the National Assembly on Tuesday.
He started with a long historical perspective, during which EFF MP Mbuyiseni Ndlozi chirped: “I was not aware it is heritage day today.”
Kodwa said all South Africans have a “patriotic duty” to protect the country against “hostile elements that seek to undermine our hard-earned democracy”.
“Some of those hostile elements include the plethora of information peddlers, who in the words of a retired Ghanaian intelligence officer, Kofi Bentum Quantson, have become nation wreckers, whose mission is subversion and sabotage to destabilise legitimate governments.”
He added fake news was one of the vehicles used by “hostile information peddlers”.
“As a country, we have not been immune from the hostile activities of these information peddlers who have been jumping from one administration to another seeking to engender a climate of plots and counterplots.
“This includes entrenching a culture dominated by conspiratorial tendencies leading to mistrust and divisions that undermine social cohesion in South Africa and elsewhere on the African continent.
“Each time they manifested their hostile machinations, the South African intelligence community is left reeling from mandate disorientation, internal divisions, disruption of business and more of restructuring fatigue.
“We have a national duty and a collective responsibility to deal decisively with this phenomenon, and in order for national security to reflect the resolve of South Africans as individuals and as a nation, to live as equals, to live in peace and harmony, to be free from fear and want and to seek a better life, intelligence must be secured in order to perform its mandatory constitutional duties.”
According to Kodwa, the agency was making “steady progress” in implementing the High Level Review Panel (HLRP) on state security, chaired by former minister Sydney Mufamadi, and that informed much of the dirty laundry aired at the commission.
“As you may be aware of the disturbing findings and the recommendations of the HLRP and the subsequent allegations and counter-allegations of corruption and malfeasance at the Zondo Commission and in the media space, the public image of the agency has been compromised.”
He said they continued to support all efforts to improve and professionalise the agency.
“In this respect, we support the process that is unfolding at the Zondo Commission and are also implementing the recommendations of the HLRP to enhance accountability and transparency.”
Kodwa added among the crucial HLRP interventions was the need to secure the services of an independent forensic investigation to probe allegations of corruption “committed by some members of the agency”.
“The agency is at an advanced stage in appointing an independent forensic firm to deal with the alleged misconduct. There are currently more than five cases that have been referred to the police for further investigation and prosecution.”
The chairperson of the Joint Standing Committee on Intelligence (JSCI), Jerome Maake, said shocking testimony at the commission happened before the committee was established, but they were now dealing with it.
He added the solution to all the problems mentioned at the commission was to implement the HLRP’s recommendations.
Opposition MPs decried the apparent perpetual bedlam the agency is mired in.
DA MP Dianne Kohler Barnard said there was “disproportionate secrecy in the SSA”.
“This is how the billions were stolen, by keeping the committee [JSCI] in the dark,” she added.
Ndlozi said the committee had witnessed the collapse in the relationship between Dlodlo and the agency’s management on several occasions.