Sixteen years after the advent of democracy, the White Paper on Intelligence is under review, says state security minister Siyabonga Cwele. Also in the spotlight is the finalisation of a national security strategy “by the end of the term of this government”.
Cwele says the drafting of the strategy has begun in earnest. “The main purpose of the strategy is to build an understanding and national consciousness around the security challenges we face as a nation. Furthermore, the strategy will provide a long-term framework for managing the security threats facing our country,” he said in his annual budget vote on Wednesday.
“To realise this important objective, we must, as a nation, develop a common understanding on what constitutes national security, as well as the foundation upon which it will be based. I would like to emphasise that the strategy requires that we take collective ownership. It will therefore be essential to engage with members of the public on this matter. We hope the JSCI [Joint Standing Committee on Intelligence] of will take this challenge once the draft is tabled.”
Turning to the soccer World Cup, now a month away, Cwele again said that the State Security Agency’s assessment remains that there is no security threat to the event including that of global terrorism. “However we are not lowering our guard,” he said. “We are striving to ensure the event remains peaceful, enjoyable, leaves a lasting legacy and becomes a springboard for Africa’s development. The tournament is proving to be a major Nation Building project, uniting our people behind our flag and the national anthem. It brings a true sense of common nationhood.
“Once more we want to reassure the world that we are ready to host the 2010 FIFA World Cup. Our
We are grateful to our partners in the Southern African Development Community (SADC), Africa and the rest of the world who continue to share intelligence regarding the security of the tournament.
“As the intelligence community, we are conducting daily threat assessments including the appraisal of routes, base camps, hotels and screening of service providers. This information is fed into the National Joint Operations Centre to guide operations. We urge all service providers to the event to submit themselves for security screening as there will be no one allowed to participate without fulfilling this requirement.
Turning to national cohesion and increased racial tension in SA, Cwele said a divided nation cannot guarantee its own national security. “Our government is working hard to bridge the racial divide that still exists within our communities. Both the plight of the majority and the concerns of the minority groupings are being attended to. The recent rightwing threat emanating from the death of [Eugene] Terre’Blanche cannot therefore be justified. We are working with the Afrikaner community, the Jewish, Muslim and other religious groupings to build cohesion and strengthen the unity of our nation. In this regard, we applaud the Afrikaner leadership for having retracted the inflammatory statements recently issued in the media after the death of Mr Terre’Blanche.”
State security agenda 2010
“In the spirit of doing things differently, our work will not only be informed by the national intelligence priorities as encapsulated in our national intelligence estimate, but also by the performance agreement I signed with the president on April 29 2010. This is part of a national effort to build a performance driven state focusing on measurable outcomes on priorities.”
Cwele added his department will this year resubmit the draft Protection of Information Bill to Parliament in order secure the integrity of sensitive state information and criminalise the activities of those engaging in espionage and information peddling. “The bill has been tabled before Parliament and is being considered by the Ad Hoc Committee. Given the importance of the bill, we urge the Ad Hoc Committee to expedite its processing.”
He also said the National Intelligence Coordinating Committee (NICOC) has concluded a pilot early warning system project to monitor and identify risks to critical national infrastructure. “We aim to expand the project to include all state-owned enterprises including provincial entities,” he said.
On the ground, Cwele said State Security will this year contribute to the government outcome of ensuring that “all people in South Africa are safe and feel safe”. He says government has declared war on crime and has set an objective to reduce crime levels in the country, particularly those which are violent in nature. “In this regard, we will introduce in our intelligence analysis the scoping of the extent and impact of syndicated violent crimes and annual assessment of strategic crime trends in the national intelligence estimate.
“We will establish operations against domestic and trans-national crime syndicates. We will employ all the capacities at our disposal including liaison with other foreign intelligence services to share information. This has proved to be useful because it builds up into joint operations with neighbouring and fraternal countries. We will provide actionable intelligence to assist in the prosecutions or disruption of activities of the syndicates.
“In this financial year, we will also develop a comprehensive counter terrorism strategy, which will guide our counter terrorism operations.
“We have [also] begun the preparatory work within security cluster working together with the Cooperative Governance and Traditional Affairs and Independent Electoral Commission to provide security assessments, the setting up of systems and to ensure that 2011 local government elections are held in a peaceful atmosphere. Our primary focus will be to eliminate ‘no go areas’ in order to ensure that all South Africans participate freely in the elections without any fear of intimidation” Cwele said.
Furthermore, his agents continue to monitor and assess the manifestation of xenophobia across the country, with the aim of averting the possibility of violent outbreak against foreign nationals. “Our assessment reveals an ongoing tension between local communities and foreign nationals in various hotspots across the country. We will continue to work with local and émigré communities to prevent commission of these inhuman acts.”
Looking at fraud and corruption in gvernment, Cwele said that “through joint operations and coordination, in the fight to root out fraud, theft and corruption within the cluster and government in general. Within the State Security Agency, we have instituted investigations in several areas including the group insurance scheme for members. We will release the report once the investigations are concluded and we will not hesitate to act on the culprits.
“Within the cluster, we will continue working with Home Affairs to curb the scourge of identity fraud which has become a threat to our national security, the wellbeing of our citizens and the integrity of our systems. We are going to increase our counter-intelligence capacity in order to assist government in the fight against corruption. We shall conduct regular screening to those entrusted with state resources. We shall extend our vetting programmes to provincial and local government sphere.
“Illicit mining has emerged as a multi-faceted national security threat, costing the economy billions of Rand in revenue. Amongst others, illicit mining is taking place in the gold, platinum and diamond sectors. For example; the gold sector alone loses an estimated R5.7 billion in annual revenue through these trans-national organised crime syndicates. We should note that the Welkom and Barberton areas have been particularly hard hit by illicit mining activities,” Cwele said.
“Illicit mining presents us with a range of social challenges, such as the corrupting of communities, forced child labour, and related criminal activity, including tax evasion, human trafficking, prostitution and gangsterism. As government, we are determined to address this threat to our economy and our communities. We appointed an inter-departmental team, involving the State Security Agency, South African Police Service (SAPS) Crime Intelligence, National Prosecuting Authority (NPA), Special Investigations Unit, Directorate for Priority Crimes Investigation, Department of Mineral Resources and Department of Home Affairs to effectively deal with illicit mining and related activities. We are happy to report that this collaboration is yielding positive results.
“The intelligence community will also make an important contribution to the government’s outcome to create a better South Africa and contributing to a better and safer Africa and the world. Our operations will be directed towards supporting our government in advancing regional, continental and global peace, security and sustainable development. In this regard, we will continue to work within the ambit of SADC, African Union and the United Nations to support peace initiatives in the region and the continent. We will increase our presence in the continent and prioritise the conflict areas and work to stabilise these, particularly the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC), Sudan, Madagascar, Somalia and Zimbabwe.
We will continue to lead the work on the conceptualisation and establishment of the SADC Early Warning Centre in Gaborone, Botswana with the objective that the centre is fully operational by the end of the year,” he said.
Pic: State Security HQ, Musanda, Pretoria