News South Africa

Eric Naki
Political Editor
2 minute read
16 Jun 2018
6:16 am

High-level panel keen to get SSA house in order

Eric Naki

The agency has been involved in a number of controversial activities and there have been complaints over its failure to detect and prevent crime and graft.

Former head of the State Security Agency (SSA), Arthur Fraser, seen in Pretoria in 2008. Picture: Gallo Images

The newly appointed chairperson of the high-level review panel on the State Security Agency (SSA), Sydney Mufamadi, says his team is coordinating its diaries in preparation to start work.

Mufamadi said the panelists are yet to receive the terms of reference, which they would study before they met to decide on the way forward.

“We, as the panel, we have to interrogate what we are talking about first,” he said. “We will make an announcement once we have formulated a collective view about what we have been appointed to do.”

Mufamadi is a former trade unionist, former United Democratic Front activist, former safety and security minister under Nelson Mandela and provincial and local government minister under Thabo Mbeki.

The 10-member panel was announced by the presidency yesterday. Its task is to assess the mandate, capacity and organisational integrity of the SSA.

There have been complaints about the lack of capacity in the agency and failure of the country’s intelligence community to detect and prevent incidents of corruption and crime in general.

The SSA had been involved in a number of controversial activities.

Its former head Arthur Fraser allegedly ran a private intelligence body and had been accused of intimidating the inspector-general of intelligence, Dr Setlhomamaru Dintwe, who sought legal relief against Fraser.

Ramaphosa subsequently booted Fraser out as director-general and moved him to the department of correctional services as commissioner.

The controversial official featured in journalist Jacques Pauw’s book The President’s Keepers. The book alleges that under Jacob Zuma, intelligence operatives were used to get the president off the hook on his counts of fraud, corruption and racketeering.

The panel’s appointment is a sequel to President Cyril Ramaphosa’s statement in parliament on May 8 that he intended to set up a review panel to assess the SSA structure and its mandate.

“The panel is expected to undertake and conclude its work within three months,” the Presidency said in a statement.

Ramaphosa has asked the panel to look at all material factors pertaining to the agency’s problems so that appropriate measures are instituted to prevent a recurrence.

“The main objective of the review panel is to assist in ensuring a responsible and accountable national intelligence capability for the country in line with the constitution and relevant legislation.”

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