Tuesday, 10 August 2021

Cape Town: The Joint Standing Committee on Intelligence (JSCI) Chairperson Jerome Maake has recently received an approval from the Houses of Parliament to embark on an inquiry into allegations of intelligence failures by the intelligence services.

Maake said that following the outbreak of the events of violence and looting that took place in KwaZulu-Natal and Gauteng Provinces in July, which some South Africans attributed to the intelligence failure, the JSCI engaged with the intelligence services on 15 and 16 July 2021 to perform its oversight role, as outlined in the Constitution and the law.

“At these meetings the need for the inquiry emerged after the committee received full briefings on the July unrests from the intelligence services. The inquiry will only be confined to the mandate of the JSCI as contained in the Constitution, the applicable legislation and Joint Rules of Parliament,” Maake said.

Maake added that unlike other Parliamentary committees, the JSCI conducts its activities in closed sessions, as guided by the Intelligence Services Oversight Act 1994, (Act No. 40 of 1994), and “not all information pertaining to the work of the committee may be disclosed to the public”.

However, he said some information will be contained in the Annual Report of the JSCI to be published soon. The High-Level Review Panel (HLRP) report reflects the challenges in the intelligence services and what needs to be done.

Maake said the Legacy Report of the Fifth Parliament also indicates the same challenges. However, the JSCI is concerned with the slow implementation of the recommendations, and has expressed its position to the appropriate implementing authorities.

“It is for this reason that several special meetings were held in Pretoria with the Minister of State Security and the State Security Agency (SSA), even at the peak of the COVID-19 pandemic as reflected in the Annual Report of the JSCI which is going to be published. The committee continues to urge the SSA to implement the recommendations without delay and to continue reporting on a quarterly basis,” Maake said.

With regards to the proceedings at the Judicial Commission of Inquiry into the Allegations of State Capture, Corruption and Fraud in the Public Sector, including Organs of State, the chairperson said the JSCI is following and awaits the report of the Commission.

In the meantime, he said, oversight continues which includes probing some of the matters ventilated at the Commission.

Maake has also expressed his appreciation to Advocate Mahlodi Sam Muofhe for his tenure as the Director: Domestic Branch at the SSA until his retirement on 31 July 2021.

“The committee is grateful that Advocate Muofhe steered the ship in the Domestic Branch through a difficult period in the SSA that was plagued by instability at senior management level and other challenges. We are grateful for his service and wish him well on his retirement and future endeavours,” Maake said.

Relocation of SSA in line with international best practices

Meanwhile, Maake has commended the relocation of SSA to the Presidency, noting that this is in line with international best practices where the most advanced intelligence agencies report directly to the head of State.

“Locating the SSA in the Presidency will enable refocusing of both the Domestic and Foreign Branches to ensure the production of intelligible intelligence products to protect the territorial integrity of the Republic,” Maake said.

The JSCI has also welcomed the appointment of Zizi Kodwa as the Deputy Minister in the Presidency to oversee the SSA, as well as the appointment of Dr Sydney Mufamadi as the National Security Advisor.

Maake said the appointment of Mufamadi, who chaired the HLRP on the SSA in 2018, and the relocation of the SSA to the Presidency will accelerate the implementation of the HLRP report recommendations, which has been an ongoing concern for the JSCI.