Whether SA Intel?

Observers have followed with interest and concern the apparent inertia in our intelligence community. We have waited for more clarity on all the following issues and problems in the intelligence community, hoping that the Minister for State Security, will shed some light or give guidance in his parliamentary budget speech this week, but to no avail:

1. Expected leadership changes after the administration hand-over to "get rid of the Mbeki-ists". Most of the current leadership had little impact on decision -making since the Polokwane ANC conference, effectively making the intelligence agencies a battle ground for the different ANC factions. No decisions were taken because of this infighting, submissions of all kinds are put on hold "for when the new DG takes over"... etc. The decision not to announce the new leadership might be not to overthrow the national security apparatus, but the reality is that especially NIA and Police Crime intelligence has been lame ducks since 2007. So let's get the moves over and done with so that everyone can focus on their jobs without dancing to political whims. And you thought that politics have no impact on intelligence..

2. No status report on the investigation over the so-called
Zuma/Arthur Fraser tapes. How can we as the South African public ever trust that NIA and the NCC will not be used to settle political or personal differences? What is the minister and the president going to do to win back our trust in those organisations that are supposed to protect the citizens and our fragile democracy?

3. We still do not know what the rationale is for the name change from "Minister of Intelligence" to "State Security". Does this mean a Communist/Cuban version of intelligence? How does the government see state security in a democratic context? Min Cwele's speech talks of all kind of threats to the state: poverty, underdevelopment; environmental degradation, food insecurity and increased competition for scarce natural resources; pandemics and disease; and human and natural disasters, intra and inter-state conflict; terrorism; nuclear, chemical and biological weapons proliferation; espionage; subversion; sabotage; transnational syndicated crime and corruption; smuggling and human trafficking; critical infrastructure and systems failure. So what role does the "state" then play, and exactly how does he plan to address all these threats? Maybe at long last let external experts also provide briefs to the president, because there's no way that the IC with a weakened personnel (many have left the last 2 years, either by accepting severance packages, or resigning, fed-up of the circus it has become) will be able to cope with it.

4. He also said that the finalisation of a National Security Strategy will be done in the next five years.
Lauren Hutton of the ISS's comment sums up my feeling as well: "the notion of a comprehensive national security strategy is to be prioritised (yet again). The development of such a strategy has been bandied around for years, maybe this time the strategy will actually appear – although the consultative nature of the process of developing such a strategy will be under question". Will the Matthews report on the Intelligence Agencies be part of this process? Will the proposals to align the IC with democratic principles be heeded? Why am I sceptic?

5. The crux of the speech lies in a few words he said, which has been the mantra of now-ignored previous Minister Kasrils: "building a professional civilian intelligence service." How do you build profesionalism? There are many ways and the
US intel community has been writing about this with renewed intensity the last few years. Valentin Filip said that two major efforts are needed in professionalisation of intelligence in Romania: 1)the inducement of a democratic ethos and an ethic of responsibility to the state and of serving the public interest, consisting of preserving human rights and civil liberties; and 2)the “rapprochement” of intelligence with the civilian sphere, by the inclusion of more civilians in the system. Both of these traits are the direct result of the recruitment, training and education policies. Questions on recruitment strategies remain unanswered: the brightest minds do not work for intelligence, the secret culture drive the networked generation away and a despotic leadership are at odds with any progress. (I hear the DDG has to approve internet access!) The less said, the better!
Also regarding training, SANAI (academy started in 2004 to give training to NIA and SASS) has not provided 1 accredited training intervention, and can still not fulfil the SAQA requirements for accreditation. Relations with its clients have deteriorated to such an extent that no-one talk to each other, and no client requirements are fulfilled. Now I wonder how a "standardised and integrated approach to training" will ever see the light.
I throw my pennies in a murky, muddy wishing pond... 'nough said...Whether SA intelligence? Withering away, I'd say.