President Ramaphosa made the appeal to members and management of the intelligence services during his visit to the SSA in Pretoria on Friday.
The visit was part of the President’s fulfilment of the commitment he made in the 2018 State of the Nation Address that he would visit all government departments.
Accompanied by the Minister for Planning, Monitoring and Evaluation, Dr Nkosazana Dlamini Zuma and Presidency Director-General Dr Cassius Lubisi, President Ramaphosa commenced his visit to the agency with a meeting with State Security Minister Dipuo Letsatsi-Duba, Deputy Minister Ellen Molekane and senior management including Acting Director-General Loyiso Jafta.
The Ministry briefed the President on the challenges affecting the agency that gave rise to President Ramaphosa’s appointment in 2018 of a high-level panel to review the intelligence services.
The panel has produced a report that identifies challenges such as low staff morale, unprofessional and unethical conduct, leadership instability, corporate governance weaknesses including procurement violations and difficulties associated with the amalgamation several years ago of domestic and foreign intelligence gathering services.
Addressing SSA staff members, President Ramaphosa said the report would be published in due course for the benefit of all South Africans including members of the national intelligence service.
The report would also be the subject of engagement with the Parliamentary Joint Committee on Intelligence and the Inspector-General of Intelligence.
The President said that the agency’s recent past was unfortunate and there would be accountability for the wrongs that had occurred within the intelligence services.
President Ramaphosa paid tribute to the “cohort of really good people (within the SSA) who are committed to the country” and said the country valued their work and what they stood for.
He called on intelligence staff to “reposition your own dedication and commitment” and to be ethical, committed, selfless and non-partisan in the execution of their duties.
The President cautioned the intelligence services to desist from involving themselves in party political dynamics.
“We want you to do things correctly, in terms of the law and corporate governance, without a deviant agenda,” President Ramaphosa said.
The President called on the State Security Agency to develop the human capacity and innovation to support South Africa’s national objectives.
He said the SSA should become a professional civilian intelligence service of which the country could be proud in the knowledge that South Africa is fully secured.
The President said the report of the review panel spelt out a way forward towards the rebuilding of a SSA that would be revamped, renewed and recommitted.