Reform of State intelligence and security machinery progressing – Gungubele

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Minister in The Presidency, Mondli Gungubele, used his response to last week’s State of the Nation Address (SONA) to inform South Africans government is working at strengthening its intelligence services to avoid a “recurrence” of the July 2021 civil unrest that left over 350 people dead and saw the economy tanked to the tune of R50 billion.

“We cannot build a developmental state when our security and intelligence services are not modernised and capable.

“A key commitment of the 2022 State of the Nation Address (SONA) was to address weaknesses identified by the Expert Panel into the July 2021 civil unrest,” Gungubele is reported by SAnews as saying.

Addressing this year’s SONA debate in Parliament’s temporary home at the Cape Town City Hall, he said weaknesses identified included co-ordination between intelligence structures and bringing critical stakeholders together to tighten intelligence community working relations.

The State Security Agency (SSA), which resides in The Presidency where the still to be named Minister of Electricity will also be, has met stakeholders at provincial and local government level (mayors) as well as unspecified law enforcement agencies to improve working relations in and across the security sector.

“The SSA continues to work in the National Intelligence Co-ordinating Committee (NICOC) early warning systems to avoid recurrence of July [2021] and similar incidents. This approach ensures the intelligence communities – including the SSA – produce co-ordinated intelligence products which are timeous, relevant, credible and reliable,” Gungubele told parliamentarians.

The other weakness identified by the Sandy Africa Report [of the expert panel into the July 2021 civil unrest] was capacity constraints especially at leadership and management level in the SSA he said. Progress by way of filling vacancies at senior management level is steadily assisting SSA “to stabilise and perform at its maximum”.

According to Gungubele, “a significant number” of recommendations of the Judicial Commission of Inquiry on State Capture [Zondo Commission] and of the HLRP (high level panel review) on SSA, brought into being in June 2018, were implemented. He said “dis-establishing SSA into domestic and foreign branches” was at “an advanced stage” without giving timelines.

Amendment of, among others, the National Strategic Intelligence Act (1994), Intelligence Services Act (2002) and will go to the National Assembly (NA) “this year”. The same applies to the General Intelligence Laws Amendment Bill, interception Bill and finalising the Cybersecurity Bill.

On recommendations made by Justice Zondo and former minister Sidney Mufamadi’s HLRP, Gungubele said 39 of 73 recommendations had been “fully implemented” with the remainder “work in progress”.