New Intelligence Inspector General must be impartial and independent


Advocate Faith Radebe vacates the office of Inspector General for Intelligence on March 31 and a call has been made for her successor to be impartial, independent and perform his or her functions without fear or favour.

The call comes from David Maynier, opposition Democratic Alliance (DA) shadow defence and military veterans minister, who has a history of protracted verbal skirmishing with Minister Nosiviwe Mapisa-Nqakula and secretary for defence, Sam Gulube, about a synthetic radar aperture satellite Defence Intelligence might or might not have acquired.

Maynier has been investigating the acquisition of a spy satellite by Defence Intelligence for more than five years. He maintains he has unearthed evidence of cancelled and then reinstated contracts for a Kondor-E satellite to be launched from the Baikonur Cosmodrome working through Russian company NPO Mashinostroyenia. The satellite programme was run as a top secret project, initially known as Project Flute and later renamed Project Consolidated Flute.

As recently as last month Maynier again asked questions about a satellite launch from Baikonur. He based the question on a report which claimed a Kondor-E satellite was launched in the “interests of a foreign customer”.
“The unnamed foreign customer may be South Africa. We cannot be sure but the Kondor-E launched in December may be Defence Intelligence’s spy satellite developed under Project Flute,” he said adding his investigations have been met with closed doors at Parliamentary level.
“That Defence Intelligence has a contract with NPO Mashinostroyenia to develop a Kondor-E radar imaging satellite under Project Flute is an open secret. This is despite the Defence and Military Veterans Minister refusing to answer questions in Parliament. The Secretary for Defence, Dr Sam Gulube, conceded at a meeting of the Defence and Military Veterans Portfolio committee there was a contract to develop a ‘military satellite’ and it was on track,” Maynier said.

He still has no answers to the questions he posed in December and will continue asking questions to find out what the purpose of the satellite is as well as “after reportedly sinking R1.4 billion into it, if it actually works”.

This is one aspect of national covert operations which the new Intelligence Inspector General must do because “he or she can literally go through the bottom drawers Crime Intelligence, Defence Intelligence and the State Security Agency,” according to Maynier.

He will endeavour to have the process of appointing the new Intelligence Inspector General conducted in open meetings of the Joint Standing Committee on Intelligence. The committee’s first meeting of the year is set down for January 21 and Maynier expects a start will be made on the process of a new Intelligence Inspector General then.