“Homeland” or “civil” security is a useful concept for which a functional framework already exists in South Africa, says Professor Mike Hough, director of the Institute for Strategic Studies at the University of Pretoria (ISSUP).
The Wikipedia says the term “homeland security” refers to the broad national effort by all levels of government to protect its territory from hazards, internal and external, natural and man-made.
Hough says the US conception of homeland security came about after the 11 September 2001 al Qaeda terror attacks on New York and Washington DC.
He says for SA the idea “should not just be terror-focussed. It should begin with border control, excessive criminal violence and crime itself, which has become a national security issue.”
The online encyclopaedia notes that the scope of homeland security includes:
- Emergency preparedness and response (for both terrorism and natural disasters), including volunteer medical, police, emergency management and fire personnel;
- Domestic intelligence activities;
- Critical infrastructure protection;
- Border security, including both land and maritime borders;
- Transportation security, including aviation and maritime transportation;
- Defence against biological attack;
- Detection of radioactive and radiological materials;
- Research on next-generation security technologies.
SA`s National Security Council
The professor adds that civil security is already in part addressed through the National Intelligence Coordinating Committee and the Cabinet cluster system as well as the National Security Council (NSC), although the latter is “not really operational.”
He says the NSC should be “at the apex and should be more functional”.
The six Cabinet clusters focus on
- the social sector
- the economic sector
- investment and employment
- governance and administration
- international relations, peace and security (IRPS)
- justice, crime prevention and security (JCPS)
The NSC was the result of a Cabinet investigation set up in late 1999 to investigate how the concept of national security should be reflected in the structure of the country and how this relates to operational security coordination.
In an ISSUP ad hoc publication in November 2000, Hough and a co-author writes that a distinction was drawn “between the broad and narrow concepts of security and a key question is whether ‘a tighter structure, more narrowly based on the security departments is necessary in order to ensure that coordination on the narrower security issues is not lost in the broader focus`.
“The result was an integrated, multi-departmental national security coordination structure” to address:
- The need for coordination of intelligence and security operations.
- The need for liaison with and between the Cabinet clusters in relation to national security issues.
- The need for a structure that can be convened with speed.
- The need for a strategic body with regard to national security issues affecting SA.
Hough adds that the 1999 exercise, approved by Cabinet in June 2000, and never rescinded, identified four “enduring key interests”.
SA`s “enduring key interests”
These “interests and supporting objectives are interrelated and mutually reinforcing and each should be interpreted and understood in relation to the others.” They are:
- The survival and defence of SA, its values and institutions and the safety of its people. (SA`s national values are recorded in Chapter 1 of the 1996 Constitution and its institutions elsewhere in the same document.)
- Sustainable economic growth and development in SA and the region.
- A peaceful and stable international environment.
- Engagement with and participation in the international community.
Hough writes that the “adoption of the wide definition of security means that any issue that could impact on the quality of life of the inhabitants of SA is a security issue.
“The national security management structure must therefore enable effective measures to deal with routine, day-to-day issues and with crises.
“Most issues that impact on national interests and security in the broad sense are dealt with on a routine basis by government departments and do not require an urgent, concerted and coordinated response at a national level, except in the context of crises.
“The scale and urgency of a matter may, however, elevate its status to a point where an extraordinary response is required. The main focus areas are expected to be internal stability; disaster relief within SA; international obligations; [the] defence of SA` and big event security.
Key features of issues that require coordination at a national level include a combination of, but not necessarily be, confined to the following:
- High impact on the quality of life.
- High impact on SA`s international standing.
- High impact on SA`s values and interests.
- The use of threat or force.
- The non-routine nature of the event or issue.
- The urgency of an issue.
- High impact on regional security.
“It was argued that mechanisms designed for the routine, day-to-day management of government affairs may not have the agility and rapid response capability to effectively deal with such matters.
The NSC was therefore “created to ensure a rapid, coordinated and effective response to critical threats to the security of SA and its people.
“The NSC will be a vehicle for the protection of SA citizens and the democratic order, and is designed to enhance the effectivity (sic) of the President and Cabinet in relation to national security issues.
NSC “not a parallel structure”
Hough says there was an effort to ensure the NSC is compatible with SA`s democratic principles, in particular in ensuring that the supremacy of the Constitution, the powers of Parliament and the authority of the President and Cabinet are not eroded “in any way” as was the case with the State Security Council of the apartheid state.
Because of the “qualitative difference” between the NSC`s activities and those of Cabinet as well as the Cabinet clusters, the NSC will operate in parallel with Cabinet and the clusters but will not be a parallel bureaucracy.
The Cabinet report noted the constitutional basis for SA`s national security policy as well as the constitutional provisions for both creating such a body as well as for preventing its abuse.
Hough writes that the NSC will be convened by the President. The deputy president is a permanent member and the core ministries are those tasked with policing, defence, intelligence, foreign affairs, home matters, finance and justice. Other ministries are to be co-opted as required.
The function of the NSC are said to include:
- Developing national security policy in general and with regard to specific issues which cannot be dealt with by the JCPS or IRPS Cabinet clusters
- To prioritise national and foreign security issues for the attention of Cabinet.
- Exercising an early warning function with respect to potential threats to national interests and security.
- Providing policy guidelines for planning to meet urgent and/or severe threats to security.
- Approving plans and programmes of action regarding such threats.
- To direct, monitor and evaluate the execution of such plans.
- Developing appropriate responses to crises.
- Coordinating assistance to other governments in crisis situations.
- Liaising with Cabinet cluster committees in relation to coordination of their activities regarding security issues.
Hough says the NSC is backed by a national security directors-general`s (DG) committee that provides a “forum for coordination between DGs as required” and “serve as an essential link to the operational structures that will execute the decisions of the NSC.
One of these structures is the “JOINTS”, the composition of which is “determined according to the issue.” One example of this is the Border Control Operational Coordinating Committee (BCOCC), an “affiliated structure of the JCPS Cluster” and mandated in 2005 “to strategically manage the South African port of entry environment in a coordinated manner”.
Hough concludes that the existence of this structure obviates the need for a US-style “Department of Homeland Security“, a vast and clumsy bureaucracy set up by US President George W Bush after the 11 September attacks.
National security architecture
National and homeland (or civil) security includes three discrete but somewhat overlapping areas:
A sample of SA national and homeland (or civil) security agencies:
· National Security Council
· NOCOC (National Operational Coordinating Committee)
· Ministry of Intelligence Services
o Comsec (Pty) Ltd
o National Communications Centre
o National Intelligence Agency
o NICOC (National Intelligence Coordinating Committee)
o SA Secret Service
· Department of Agriculture
o Foodstuffs, plant and animal import control
· Department of Defence
o SA National Defence Force
· Department of Environmental Affairs & Tourism
o Marine & Coastal Management
· Department of Home Affairs
o Citizen Services
o National Immigration Bureau
· Department of Minerals and Energy
o National Electricity Regulator of SA
· Department of Provincial and Local Government
o National Disaster Management Centre
o Oversight of local and provincial emergency management services (ambulance, fire brigade and traffic police)
o Oversight of local service delivery, including water and sanitation
· Department of Public Enterprises
· Department of Safety and Security
o SA Police Service
o Oversight of metropolitan police services
o Administration of National Key Points Act
· National Treasury
o SA Revenue Service (Customs & Excise)
 The opening paragraphs of SA`s basic law read:
Republic of South Africa
1. The Republic of South Africa is one, sovereign, democratic state founded on the following values:
a. Human dignity, the achievement of equality and the advancement of human rights and freedoms.
b. Non-racialism and non-sexism.
c. Supremacy of the constitution and the rule of law.
d. Universal adult suffrage, a national common voters roll, regular elections and a multi-party system of democratic government, to ensure accountability, responsiveness and openness.
Supremacy of Constitution
This Constitution is the supreme law of the Republic; law or conduct inconsistent with it is invalid, and the obligations imposed by it must be fulfilled.