Spooks must steer clear of politics: state security minister Ayanda Dlodlo
State security minister Ayanda Dlodlo has no appetite for intelligence officials meddling in politics, and is committed to rebuilding the image of the State Security Agency (SSA).
Addressing the media ahead of her budget vote speech in parliament on Thursday, Dlodlo said the agency must deal with matters in an impartial way, devoid of undue politicisation.
The SSA will this year start collaborating with the Public Service Commission to begin the implementation of lifestyle audits in the public service.
"Intelligence is a craft that requires a calibre of members who conduct themselves in a professional manner, devoid of political and institutional factionalism and manipulation," she later said in her budget vote speech in parliament.
Key on her list of priorities is clearing the backlog of long-standing investigations and disciplinary cases in the agency.
"In order to clear the backlog of disciplinary cases, we will appoint a person with the requisite skills by the end of the month," Dlodlo said.
Neither the minister nor the acting director-general, Loyiso Jafta, would say how many disciplinary cases were pending and how many officials were being investigated.
"I could not give you a number and say it's 50 or 60. The investigations are ongoing and we discover new things against one person or against somebody else. Again, the issues are sensitive and I would rather not go into the details of quantifying it," Jafta said.
Earlier this year, President Cyril Ramaphosa released a report he commissioned from a high panel led by former minister Sydney Mufumadi that found a disregard of the constitution, complete lawlessness and misappropriation of public funds at the SSA.
Mufumadi implicated the former head of the special operations branch of SSA, Thulani Dhlomo, in the misappropriation of funds and for creating a parallel intelligence network that reported directly to former president Jacob Zuma.
The panel recommended that Dhlomo be fired.
But Jafta would not comment on whether disciplinary action was taken against Dhlomo, who is also SA's former ambassador to Japan, only confirming that he was still a member of the agency.
In her speech to parliament, Dlodlo said the SSA was enhancing its systems and beefing up compliance instruments.
"I have also requested [public service and administration] minister Senzo Mchunu for the DPSA to assist us to develop an ethics and integrity framework for the State Security Agency which will lay a solid foundation for a credible and ethical environment and the appointment of ethics officers in the agency," Dlodlo said.
She said there was a myriad reasons why there was low morale in the SSA, including the many acting managers, a moratorium on promotions, and inaction against people who have been implicated in wrongdoing.
Dlodlo said while it was impossible to deal with the backlog of vetting, they intend to change the way vetting is done to combat corruption.
"We intend to address the issue of vetting, especially of executives and top management but including staff, in supply chains across the administration. In the next three months we will introduce uniform vetting standards across the sector to avoid inconsistency and duplication," she said.
Jafta would not say if the SSA was aware of the incident Zuma was referring to when he said there was an attempt to kill him by using a suicide bomber.
Would you like to comment on this article or view other readers' comments? Register (it’s quick and free) or sign in now.
Please read our Comment Policy before commenting.