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Address by Minister in The Presidency responsible for State Security, Mondli Gungubele, on the occasion of the 2022/23 Budget Vote debate, Parliament, Cape Town

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THEME: NATIONAL SECURITY IS THE PATRIOTIC DUTY AND RESPONSIBILTY OF THE STATE AND THE CITIZENS OF THE REPUBLIC.

Honourable Chairperson and Honourable Members,
Chairperson and Members of the Joint Standing Committee on Intelligence,
Deputy Minister Zizi Kodwa,
NICOC Coordinator Ambassador Msimang,
Director-General of the State Security Agency Ambassador Majola,
Veterans of the Intelligence Services,
Distinguished guests,
Fellow South Africans,

INTRODUCTION

Let me start by thanking the Honourable Speaker and this august house at large for giving us the opportunity to present this budget policy statement of the State Security Agency for the financial year 2022/23.

This moment affords us the platform not only to reflect and account on our previous commitments and performance as an Agency but also an opportunity to assess our strengths and weaknesses in the mission to fulfill our Constitutional Mandate, which is to defend the safety of our citizens and the territorial integrity of the Republic. In pursuit of this Constitutional Directive, we are guided by the firm principle that National Security is the patriotic duty and responsibility of the State and the citizens of the Republic.

We hold this principle in the highest regard because the bedrock of any intelligence service is its ability to connect with people and to harness their energies in order to achieve its national security goals. It is for this reason that we speak of a doctrinal shift in our undertaking of national security from a state focused, to a national and people centric enterprise based on the fundamental values of our Constitution.

One of the surest ways of strengthening the people centric outlook is to demystify the domain of intelligence – as the High Level Review Panel observed, the phenomenon of excessive secrecy has detached us from the pulse of our nation. While respecting the imperative of the secret nature of intelligence as a craft, the Constitution enjoins us to be more transparent, accountable and open to the needs of the public.

Against this background, the civilian intelligence service is bound to examine the introduction of a fully - fledged public awareness and liaison capacity which will drive the achievement of this strategic objective.

Chairperson, we are meeting at a critical time in the history of our democratic nation where our people are faced with the most challenging conditions especially with regard to their safety and security. This is in addition to the dire threat of enduring poverty, joblessness and the ever rising cost of living.

From a security point of view, it is no exaggeration that our country is gripped by an atmosphere of fear and insecurity, which is in contrast with the provisions of section 198 of our Constitution on national security. If nothing is done to turn the situation around, we will reach the deepest levels of devastation from which it will be difficult to recover. It is for this reason that the centrality and posture of our civilian intelligence service must be enhanced to consolidate the vital rapport between the people and the state, in defense of our hard earned democratic gains.

The marauding gangs in areas like the Cape Flats and parts of Kwa Zulu Natal, Gqeberha, who terrorize communities and carry out assassinations of individuals, the uncontrolled influx of illegal immigrants which often leads to violent clashes with locals because of competition for resources, the wanton destruction of critical economic infrastructure and the general lawlessness across the length and breadth of our country, all constitute the ticking time bomb that we must never allow to discharge.

We are all aware of some of the underlying causes of this scourge some of which were crisply elaborated in the July Report of Prof Sandy Africa. These include the weakness of state institutions, high unemployment especially for the youth, inherited levels of poverty and deep inequality, rampant corruption at various levels of government among others.

Madam Speaker, it is clear that such a situation is untenable for the sustainability of our country and democracy. The State and Government as a whole must make every effort to implement the economic reconstruction and recovery program together with other government interventions to turn our economy around and uplift the lives of our people.

If we do not attend to these immediate challenges, we run the risk of being exposed once again to the unfortunate incidents of July and no one wants to experience such upheavals ever again in our country. We therefore need a solid, State led program with our social partners and the citizens of our country as a whole to find solutions and rid our country of the monster of poverty and inequality.

This budget policy statement sets out our national security priorities and the strategies to enhance the stability of our country. In this financial year, we continue to focus on plans to strengthen our capacity to deliver on our mandate, to re-skill and re-energize our workforce to deliver a better service to our people, and most importantly to reposition the Agency to be a trusted custodian of our national security.

We have an enduring obligation to work together to build a strong and resilient State Security Agency which should play the role of a guiding light and guarantor of our safety, security and prosperity in the country.

REPOSITIONING THE STATE SECURITY AGENCY TO FULFILL ITS CONSTITUTIONAL MANDATE

Madam Speaker, I do not need to repeat the observations of the Mufamadi High Level Review Panel to the effect that we are emerging from a prolonged abuse of Intelligence capacity, an intelligence architecture with a posture and structure of operations which is not responsive to the changed national and global security landscape and many other deformities in the system.

We must admit without reservations that the progress towards implementation of the High Level Review Panel recommendations has been slow and must be expedited without delay. However, a lot of ground has been covered and many other interventions are underway to address the issues raised in the report.

As directed by the review panel, we are already at an advanced stage in the review of our annual planning process in relation to the budgeting process that ensures clear accountability and manageability of budgeting, expenditure and performance against planning priorities and targets.

Later in this financial year, we will release a bigger turnaround plan for the organization which will address a wide range of issues identified in the report and other matters that the organization has prioritized for itself.

With regard to the dis-establishment of the State Security Agency, I am glad to announce that the General Intelligence Laws Amendment Bill has been finalized and the roadmap for its submission to Parliament was presented to the Joint Standing Committee on Intelligence. It is anticipated that this Bill will be submitted to Parliament in September 2022.

This Bill will enable the establishment of a Domestic arm of the service to focus on Counter-Intelligence and Domestic Intelligence mandate, the establishment of a Foreign Service to focus on foreign intelligence gathering and the reestablishment of the South African National Academy of Intelligence, as schedule 3A Government Component, to focus on Intelligence training as a critical element of skills development and capacity building.

Members will also recall that the report called for the finalization of the National Security Policy and the National Security Strategy. I am glad to announce that both documents were tabled at the SANSS and recommended for internal consultation through the clusters. The National Security Policy has already been presented at the FOSAD and will be tabled back to SANSS for the recommendation to the National Security Council in July. It will then be recommended to parliament for the commencement of public consultations.

DEALING WITH CORRUPTION AND GENERAL MISCONDUCT

Madam Speaker, one of the biggest issues that have stifled the performance of this Agency has been the matter of corruption and an enduring culture of misconduct. The Mufamadi report has made specific recommendations regarding interventions to deal with endemic incidents of fraud, corruption and misconduct.

A number of interventions have been instituted especially with regard to the investigation of corruption since the publication of the Mufamadi report. Though a great deal of work has been undertaken, there has been no tangible results in terms of holding people to account for the misdemeanors.

However, we are glad to announce that in the past two years, the work to uncover acts of corruption and misconduct has intensified and a number of individuals have been arrested with others already being convicted by the commercial crimes courts. In the previous financial year, we finalized eleven disciplinary cases and this current year we have already finalized three of these.

Nine disciplinary investigations hearings are in progress and we hope to finalize them before the end of the quarter. A lot still needs to be done including following up on the issues that emanated from the evidence at the Zondo Commission.

Our collaboration with the Investigative Directorate of the National Prosecution Authority has ensured that we cast the net wider in our efforts to hold people to account. The forensic investigators (Lekwa Forensic Services) are currently investigating twenty-six cases (26) within the Agency. We are also encouraged by the work that is being undertaken by our forensic investigation capacity and are determined that we will succeed in this regard.

In this financial year, we will put more resources towards the fight against corruption including strengthening partnerships with fraternal law enforcement authorities. Our march towards a clean, responsible and corruption free State Security Agency is unrelenting and we are confident that we will regain our status as the custodian of National Security in this country.

STRENGTHENING SKILLS CAPACITY AND BUILDING THE ORGANIZATION

The President of the Republic, HE CM Ramaphosa, has on several occasions expressed the need for fit for purpose domestic and foreign intelligence services. The fit for purpose intelligence agencies will be mandated to inject intelligence to assist government in exercising control over risks, threats and opportunities in the advancement of South Africa’s national security objectives.

The task for realizing fit for purpose intelligence capabilities starts with the training of newly recruited intelligence officers. For this reason, we seek to use the Intelligence Officer Development Programme (IODP) to produce not only well-rounded intelligence officers, but fit-for-purpose intelligence officers armed with the requisite competencies (knowledge, skills, and attitudes) based on eleven fields. The (IODP) is developed as an internship program and seeks to provide training to candidate intelligence officers, commonly known as Cadets.

Honourable members, we are excited to announce that there will be a group of 75 candidate intelligence officers that will undergo the Programme next month. These young officers will be trained in Mahikeng for a period of 12 months. The Programme that they will undergo is divided into different training fields including soft-skills development, national security and intelligence management, building blocks of national security strategy, alignment of intelligence to government business, as well as State Security input to government business.

Through our Intelligence Academy (IA), we will continue to provide education, training and development (ETD) interventions in order to improve efficiency in the conduct of both core-business and non-core business functions. This includes engendering the country’s constitutional values in the business of the Agency; asserting the principles of sound financial management and accountability; inculcating and promoting adherence to operational and corporate-related governance mechanisms and ethical conduct.

In order to achieve the above, we will ensure that the continuous conducting of development research aimed at reinforcing curriculum development efforts. Steps will also be taken to ensure that curriculum development and its implementation are based on an accurate and reliable needs assessment.

With regard to the current establishment, I am also glad to announce that we have stabilized the management component with regard to the permanent filling of posts. As we stand here, we have filled the one remaining DDG level post which means all posts at that level are now permanently filled.

We have also filled twenty-one (21) General Manager positions and the remaining vacant posts at this level are all at recruitment phase and should be filled by the end of the second quarter. Thirty-three Manager positions have also been permanently filled and the thirteen remaining are at various stages in the recruitment process.

We have also done a great deal of work with regard to the placement of members who previously did not have positions due to organizational changes that happened in the past.

The cherry on top is the appointment of the Director General who had to hit the ground running both in terms of stabilizing the organization internally and restoring our relations with our counterparts around the globe. We are on the road to recovery and we are confident that we have the requisite will and energy to achieve our desired goal.

REBUILDING INTELLIGENCE CAPABILITY TO MEET THE CHALLENGES OF THE 21ST CENTURY

Madam Speaker, there is a trend that countries redefine their view of National Security which involves an expanded conceptualization of security. This paradigm shift is the result of four major changes in our society with regard to a) technology; b) perception of threats; c) interpretation of human rights and d) ownership of telecommunications.

This has led to a shift towards more proactive and preventive measures against threats such as international terrorism, transnational organized crime, in other words pre-emptive intelligence. For South Africa to align with the global trends, in the medium term, we will be focusing on building and strengthening capability and capacity for a relevant Signals Intelligence as well as reinforcing the legislation.

Electronic or telecommunications technology crimes have been on an upward increase. The advancement of electronic communication technologies introduces both new opportunities and challenges. The convergence of the 5th generation (5G), Big Data, Internet of Things (IoT) and Cloud computing technologies; requires significant research and adaptation to lawful interception solutions.

The technological developments have made internet an increasingly important part of our lives. In an effort to strengthen cybersecurity, the National Communications will continue to build and strengthen capability and capacity in order to proactively combat emerging cyber threats and potential cyberattacks. The increased incidents of cybercrime require a comprehensive approach on cyber security to protect the country’s critical network infrastructure.

The growing usage of the over-the top (OTT) services, due to their end-to-end encryption, remain a challenge to the infrastructure for lawful interception through the Office for Interception Centers (OIC). In recognition of this, the process of upgrading the Lawful Interception Monitoring system, with advanced state of the art technology that will enable the OIC to deliver a value add service, is underway.

This system will further strengthen the crime fighting capacity of the Law Enforcement Agencies (LEAs), and the prosecuting arm of the state to successfully prosecute cases.

The National Treasury and The Criminal Assets Recovery Account (CARA) have made funds available for SSA to develop and implement targeted cybersecurity awareness and training programs within the Law Enforcement Agencies and Prosecutorial Authority. In so doing, SSA will be accelerating the implementation of the National Cybersecurity Policy Framework which incorporates the development of the Cybersecurity legislative framework and the establishment of an integrated cyber capability and capacity. The Cybersecurity Bill is being finalized and will be submitted for Parliament process in this financial year.

The current technological environment renders it necessary for the Office of the Interception Centers (OIC) to keep abreast of the latest developments within the telecommunications space. In recognition of this, the OIC has established a Research and Development (R&D) committee geared towards engaging various stakeholders and advising the OIC on the establishment of a R&D capability, and implementation of relevant 4th industrial revolution programs and beyond, to ensure a sustainable OIC lawful interception capability. There is also significant progress in the process of establishment of the cyber security center within the State Security Agency.

THE RICA JUDGMENT

Honourable members are aware of the historic judgment of AmaBhungane v Minister of Justice and Others, where the Constitutional Court of South Africa, declared some operational sections of the Regulation of Interception of Communications and Provision of Communication-Related Information Act, also known as RICA, unconstitutional.

The Constitutional Court found RICA to be deficient, in that it provides no adequate safeguards for the protection of certain rights in the Constitution. As members are aware, the court then afforded Parliament a period of three years in which to cure the constitutional defects it identified in the legislation.

In response to the court judgment, we have started with the internal review processes, and will continue to attend to making proposals on the review of not only the deficient provisions of RICA, but other provisions of this legislation.

This was done with a view of duly updating the legislation, to ensure its adequate response to human rights protection and the current telecommunications era. Arrangements to present review proposals and engage external stakeholders including the telecommunications service providers and the Department of Justice are also underway.

A SECURE REGION, BETTER AFRICA AND A BETTER WORLD

Honourable members will recall that South Africa deployed its troops in Mozambique as part of the SADC Mission in Mozambique (SAMIM) on 15 July 2021. This was a mission to support the Republic of Mozambique to combat terrorism, acts of violence and extremism carried out by insurgents of Al – Sunnah – wa Jema’ah since October 2017.

Since its deployment, SAMIM has registered a number of milestones, including recapturing villages, dislodging terrorists from their bases and seizing weapons and warfare material, which has contributed to creating a relatively secure environment for safer passage of humanitarian support.

Going forward, the South African government will continue to support efforts to deal with these terrorist acts in the Region because our own stability is inextricably linked with the stability of the Region.

The other important matter of National Security that we need to clarify involves the repatriation of South African citizens from conflict zones. The recent one being the return of our citizens from Syria.

There are allegations that the South African government is conducting covert operations that have aided ISIS operatives to enter our borders. That allegation is without substance; the reality is that we are obligated by both domestic and international law to take care of our citizens wherever they may be around the globe.

Section 21(3) of the Constitution provides that every citizen has the right to enter and remain in, and reside anywhere in the Republic. However, we must remind the house that we equally have an obligation to ensure that those who contravene the foreign military assistance act are appropriately sanctioned.

The same can be expected with our citizens that are trapped in the ongoing conflict in Ukraine. The war in Ukraine is a global crisis that should be stopped from any further escalation. All efforts should be directed at commencing or escalating contacts to negotiations directed at urgently securing a ceasefire and all its concomitant elements. This is urgent. We shall add what voice and effort we can as a country towards this historic task.

It has become clearer that institutions and systems for global governance are in need of urgent reform. Global peace, equitable development and conflict prevention and management require all the elements that underpin justice: independence, predictability, equality of all nations before principles and fair censure.

Too often, many lives have been lost in wars, borders redrawn, economies and livelihoods destroyed because of the current system that hardly censured the strong as evenly as the weak.

Too often, many countries and territories have been victim of proxy and hybrid wars because of conflicting interests among or between the strong that the existing institutions and systems for global governance cannot effectively mediate, adjudicate and resolve in an independent, just, predictable and fair manner.

The challenges that humanity and countries are already facing - that are only going to become more acute - from climate change, a growing global population, emigration, urbanisation, inequality and global pandemics call for a movement towards a truly United Nations and not the existing United Nations that is not United.

In conclusion, Chairperson and fellow South Africans, with this budget vote, we want to assure South Africans that when it comes to national security, no South African will be left behind.

Thank you.