Minister of State Security Siyabonga Cwele says the State Security Bill that he promised last year, will reach Parliament this year. The Bill will codify a Presidential Proclamation in September 2009 that created the State Security Agency (SSA).
“…in order to codify the Presidential Proclamation of 2009 that created the [SSA], we are completing the preliminary consultations on the State Security Bill, which is due to be considered by Cabinet before tabling it in Parliament this year,” Cwele said in his budget vote last week.
He largely said the same in his budget vote last year when he mooted a National State Security Bill to legislate the amalgamation of the country’s national intelligence organisations into a single agency. Included in this was the domestically-orientated National Intelligence Agency and the foreign-focused SA Secret Service . Also included in the amalgamation is the South African National Academy of Intelligence, the National Communications Centre, the Office for Interception Centres, the Electronic Communications Security (Pty) Ltd, known as COMSEC and the Intelligence Services Council on Conditions of Employment.
“The restructuring of the civilian intelligence structures into the State Security Agency has indeed taken off, under the stewardship of the director general, [ex] Ambassador Jeff Maqetuka,” Cwele said last week. “There is no going back to the duplication of the past. It is appropriate, at this stage to thank Professor Sandy Africa who was seconded by the University of Pretoria as head of our Corporate Services to guide the integration of different agencies. She has been the engine of this restructuring process. Prof Africa, as you go back to this outstanding African institution, kindly convey our gratitude to the Senior Vice-Principal, Professor Chris De Beer, and the Principal, Professor Cheryl de la Rey for the patriotism, loyalty and partnership in building this new department. Indeed, ‘working together we can build a safe nation and a secure world’.”
Cwele added the SSA has “filled [the] critical posts of the Chief Financial Officer, Chief Information Officer and Head: Internal Audit,” although he did not list the individuals. “In addition, we have tightened up our regulatory mechanism by issuing a single Ministerial Powers Delegation of Payments Directive and Directives on the Conditions of Service for the Agency.”
But it has not all been a smooth ride: “Due to the different IT systems that were in place, the process of integration of the IT systems is taking longer than expected in order to ensure that information is secured and migrated properly to maintain accuracy and integrity. However, we have made progress, in that now we have Single Asset Register; Payroll, Budget Management, Financial Accounting and Procurement Systems. It is envisaged that the system integration process will be finalised in the next financial year and would result in savings to the organisation,” Cwele said.
“The restructuring process also involved the development and integration of our intelligence technology platforms. We have concluded the audit of technology resources at the National Communication Centre, Interception and Communications Security facilities.
“We continue to provide lawful intercepts to law enforcement agencies. In the last financial year, the quality of our information was further enhanced by the use of new positioning tools. This contributed significantly in our fight against crime. In this financial year, we intend to conclude policy on electronic direction system as well as distribution network in order to improve service delivery and to reduce the turnaround time. We will do this after consultations with the Joint Standing Committee on Intelligence and Judge Khumalo, who is responsible for issuing directions on communications.
“The [SSA] has the responsibility of determining the National Security Posture within the organs of state. COMSEC conducted security assessment in 135 organs of state, consisting of 32 national departments, 24 provincial departments, 28 municipalities and 51 Public Entities. In the coming year we will focus in obtaining full international accreditation of our National Trust Centres.
“We seek to deal with the backlog on vetting which is a critical aspect of the counter-intelligence doctrine in the next three years. We intend to extend our vetting field units beyond national departments to prioritised provincial and local spheres. Accordingly, this endeavor will be accompanied by the exponential increase of our vetting and security advising capacity through recruitment and technology. We also intend to utilize Intelligence Veterans to improve the turn-around time.
“Particular focus will also be dedicated to the proper appointment and training of security managers across government departments and other state entities,” Cwele said.
Pic: The Musanda state security complex, Delmas Road, Rietvlei, Pretoria