NIA skills crisis prevents Parliamentary Committee from operating: DA

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Members of Parliament serving on the committee tasked with overseeing South Africa‘s intelligence services may next month be unable to approve their budgets for lack of security clearances.

MPs serving on this committee must first be “cleared” by the National Intelligence Agency (NIA), a process that takes time under the best of circumstances.

The majority Parliamentary opposition party, the Democratic Alliance says the Joint Standing Committee on State Security (JSCSS) has not yet been able to get to work “as a direct result of” a staff shortage at the NIA that is preventing it from being able to vet committee members.

Party shadow minister for state security Theo Coetzee says the DA will now be “submitting parliamentary questions in order to determine the full extent of the staff and skills shortages within this agency.”

But the JSCSS would only have been constituted last week when the new Fourth Parliament set up its working committees.

It is not yet clear who is serving on the committee as its membership was not included in a list published by the lawmaker on Friday.

It is also not clear if the list of members has been submitted to the NIA, responsible for domestic security and counter-intelligence.  

Coetzee in a statement poses the question that if the staff shortages within the NIA “are so dire that it cannot even manage to vet MPs for the oversight committee, then, what are the implications for the rest of the Agency`s functions?”

The MP urged state security minister Siyabonga Cwele to “take the initiative and tackle the skills shortage head-on.”

“The NIA staff deficiency is of serious concern… Members will not be able to work on budgetary issues until such time as they have received security clearance, yet the budget vote is less than a month away,” Coetzee amplified.



State security ministry spokeswoman Lorna Daniels could not immediately comment.