DI still after a “strategic information collection capability

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South Africa’s Defence Intelligence spending is still climbing, suggesting the secretive division is still hankering after a space-based reconnaissance capability.

The Treasury’s Estimates of National Expenditure notes Defence Intelligence receives just  1.9% of the defence department’s total budget, but that this has rise above inflation since early 2006. The ENE says the spending increases – from R353.6 million in 2006/07 to R698.9 million in 2012/13, at an average annual rate of 12% – are “due to the planned investment in and development of a strategic information collection capability”. That has previously been identified as code for a reconnaissance satellite.

The Engineering News and the Mail & Guardian (M&G) both reported in 2008 that erstwhile defence minister Mosiuoa Lekota cancelled an order placed in Russia for such a satellite, worth some R2 billion, by former DI head, Lt General Moreti “Mojo” Motau in 2006 or 2007. The M&G added that it was “unclear why Lekota cancelled the contract”, but hinted that Motau had signed the deal without authorisation.

The paper added the cost of the satellite including ground facilities and launch cost would have been between US$150-million and US$300-million (between R2,2-billion and R2,4-billion). “The expenditure is recurrent, as satellites have a lifespan of only a few years.” Motau unexpectedly took early retirement in March last year and was later appointed as a special advisor to defence minister Lindiwe Sisulu.

Sisulu in August said the South African National Defence Force “is involved in a number of highly classified projects to enhance the strategic intelligence collection capability of South Africa,” which implid a new programme is underway. The ENE confirms this.

The DoD 2003/04 annual report warned that ‘worldwide developments in information technology, sufficient bandwidth, the availability of collection databases and space technologies” might require expenditure “beyond defence intelligence’s current budget allocation”. The 2004/05 annual report hinted that an acquisition was underway, noting that the “collection capability of defence intelligence is being expanded continuously and needs further improvement at huge cost to stay abreast of new technological developments … [The] inflexibility of commercial satellites and bad weather limit the use of satellite reconnaissance over equatorial regions.”

Former Science & Technology minister Mosibudi Mangena has previously argued SA needs its own proprietary satellites and cannot rely on commercial machines for imagery as they may not always be available and may not offer coverage of the area of interest. In addition, he warned that relying on satellites owned by others had national security implications – the operator and likely their national intelligence establishment would have insight into strategic South African government decision-making.

His successor, Naledi Pandor last week confirmed SA’s ambition to enter the space launch business and Cabinet last month approved the acquisition of a majority stake in the Sun Space and Information Systems company that built the R26 million, 81kg Sumbandilasat low-earth orbit earth observation satellite for Pador’s department. It is not known of the “strategic information collection capability” noted in the ENE will be acquired domestically or from abroad.

Meanwhile, spending in the Defence Intelligence programme will continue to focus on the
provision of strategic and operation intelligence and counterintelligence to support the ministry, department activities and the government for the next three years.

Reviewing the 2008/09 year, Treasury noted the division remained involved in peace processes in Africa in support of government’s peace initiatives, both by providing intelligence on the current security situation and by being directly involved in peace talks. The department’s involvement in reform processes centred on training military intelligence personnel of various countries, both in South Africa and abroad.

In 2008/09, the division conducted a number of intelligence exchange meetings with intelligence services around the world. These exchanges confirmed intelligence assessments on global issues and strengthened relations between the department and its strategic partners. On a regional level, the division participated in forums and processes in which common issues of security and governance were discussed. The division’s support to and participation in the national intelligence coordinating committee elicited positive feedback from the coordinator for intelligence.

Intelligence functionaries have been deployed to the department’s external missions in Burundi,
the Central African Republic, the Democratic Republic of the Congo and Sudan. Regular intelligence updates were provided to the joint operations division in 2008/09 and mission visits were conducted where there was interaction with the deployed members to align intelligence related issues. In the first half of 2009/10, a close relationship with the division’s clients was promoted through liaison with the joint standing committee on intelligence and the national intelligence coordinating committee. Specific intelligence requirements of the national intelligence coordinating committee and the scrutiny committee of the national conventional arms control committee such as the SADC defence subcommittee and the SADC defence intelligence standing committee were addressed.

Intelligence support was provided on an ongoing basis when necessary to interdepartmental structures to provide stability programmes at major national events such as the 2010 FIFA World Cup as well as border related operations. The division formed part of several discussions that assisted in the Burundi peace process and mediation efforts to resolve the political and security developments in Madagascar. The division played a major role in drafting the SADC regional
defence estimate that was accepted in the first half of 2009/10 at the defence intelligence standing committee in Namibia. Six Namibian defence force members were trained in South Africa. Successful intelligence exchange visits were conducted with both African and European countries and meetings were held with Lesotho and Namibia.

 

Audited

Revised estimate

Estimated

FY2006/7

FY2007/8

FY2008/9

FY2009/10

FY2010/11

FY2011/12

FY2012/13

Strategic direction

R1.2m

R1.3m

R1.3m

R1.5m

R1.5m

R1.5m

R1.5m

Operations

R206.9m

R301.4m

R334.1m

R393m

R398.1m

R413.9m

R431.3m

DI Support services

R145.4m

R158.4m

R171.4m

R205m

R231.5m

R250.5m

R266m

TOTAL

R353.6m

R361.1m

R506.8m

R599.6m

R631.1m

R666m

R698.9m

Change to Feb 2009 budget estimate:

-R2742.3m

-R3045.2m

-R3294.1m

+R19.8m

Audited

Revised estimate

Estimated

FY2006/7

FY2007/8

FY2008/9

FY2009/10

FY2010/11

FY2011/12

FY2012/13

Salaries

R138m

R147m

R149.9m

R176.2m

R204.4m

R222.7m

R237.5m

Machinery and equipment

R3.1m

R0.7m

R0.6m

R0.6m

R3.4m

R3.1m

R4.5m

Special Defence Account allocation

R201m

R296.2m

R332.4m

R391.5m

R396.8m

R412.7m

R430.1m

 



Pic: A US Federation of American Scientists rendition of that country’s KH-11 “spy” satellite.