Minister of State Security Siyabonga Cwele says South Africa “is prospering, stable and secure”.
Giving his annual budget vote – the only insight ordinary South Africans get into the national intelligence environment – Cwele added there “are no discernible threats to our constitutional order. The strategic choices that we have made as the ANC [African National Congress] government have ensured that, together we develop a strong patriotism and national identity, strengthen and protect our democratic institutions.”
But he had a word of caution: ” Notwithstanding the prevailing peace and security, we should remain vigilant and united in our collective effort to uphold National Security of our young developmental state [sic]. … Chairperson, I am pleased to note that the ad hoc Committee on the Protection of Information Bill progressing well to date and I hope that it would conclude its work and report to the National Assembly in the near future. This critical piece of legislation will be central to our resolve of dealing with clear and present dangers that threaten our national security. We have commenced with the drafting of regulations and directives to operationalise this Bill when it becomes law.” The law, which is intended to replace a 1982 Act with the same name, as well as write into legislation the government’s Minimum Information Security Standards, has been decried widely as a gag on information freedom.
Cwele also gave insight into the intelligence community’s objectives: “We are relentlessly pursuing this mandate by focusing on the following objectives:
1. The development of an integrated and focused multi-source collection capability that advances our national and mitigate against threats identified in the National Intelligence Estimate;
2. The development of a highly effective and target driven counterintelligence capability to defend our country’s national interests; and
3. These priorities will be supported by focused skills development, improved analytic and technical capabilities, good corporate governance, accountability and an organisational culture that carefully balances secrecy required to achieve our mandate and openness based on sound values of commitment to democracy, loyalty and professionalism.”
Looking north, Cwele said Africa has seen this year “a number of developments, positive and negative in its various regions. SADC continues to be the most stable region despite challenges in Madagascar, Zimbabwe, Democratic Republic of Congo, Lesotho and Swaziland. Our radar screen will focus on these countries, in our quest for democracy, peace and stability.
“Whilst there are immediate threats that are facing the region, the recent attack on citizens of the region as a result of piracy within the SADC waters is a concerning development that the State Security Agency will pay particular attention to, working with other government departments in South Africa and our neighbours in the region, assessing this scourge as was agreed by the SADC Organ on Politics, Defence and Security Cooperation. In addition, we will continue to develop the SADC Early Warning Centre which was launched on the 12th of July 2010, by … Armando Guebuza, chairman of the SADC Organ and President of Mozambique.
“In East Africa, we note the positive rapture of relations between South Africa and Rwanda following the meetings of the two heads of state. However, we remain concerned over the situation in Somalia where the African Union Mission in Somalia continues to seek a lasting solution. We continue to work for a peaceful resolution of the problems facing Sudan as we lead the reconstruction effort of the African Union in South Sudan and negotiations of the situation in Darfur. The gains made as a result of the Comprehensive Peace Agreement must not be forsaken, especially in light of the developments in the Abyei region. We call for calm in all those involved.
The popular uprisings in North Africa and Middle East, has brought into sharp focus the quest for freedom. We thus call, in Africa and beyond, for the recognition of these legitimate democratic aspirations, an end to the use of force and violence. This includes Bahrain, Yemen, Syria and Iraq.
“Let me reiterate the call of the AU Ministerial meeting of the Peace and Security Council which ‘stressed the imperative of good governance, through the strengthening of democratic culture and institutions, respect for human rights, upholding of the rule of law and respect for people-centred constitutions, as means for preventing conflicts and enhancing the people’s participation in fostering solutions to the prevailing problems.’ (PSC/MIN/BR.1(CCLXXIV), page 1. Heeding this call would lay a solid foundation for the sustainable unity of Africa.
“In Libya, specifically, the situation has become more complex following the departure by NATO from the UN Security Council resolutions 1970 and 1973. The immediate priority for all should therefore be to bring to a speedy end the ongoing violence by ensuring that there is an immediate ceasefire. The people of Libya have become victims of the ongoing violence and have no access to humanitarian assistance equal to their plight. Therefore, for the sake of these suffering people, the African Union, continues to call all the leaders to start talks to find a lasting solution to the problems confronting Libya.
“Chairperson, South Africa remains committed to work with the people of Cote d’Ivoire, under the leadership of President Ouattara, towards national unity and reconciliation. The dividing lines of the past must be overcome and a common future must be the legacy of all.
“As President Nelson Mandela once said, a breaking tree in the forest makes more noise than the thousands that are growing. We thus note the progress in economic, sporting, cultural, democratization and governance fields over the years, the above challenges notwithstanding.
“Chairperson, in light of our membership of BRICS [the Brazil, Russia, India, China, SA economic grouping], we are now working in close conjunction with our counterparts to create a common security programme. Amongst the issues on that agenda it is to work together in democratising the Security Council of the United Nations, in which we believe South Africa must have a seat.”