Cabinet has approved the reestablishment of the National Security Council in order “to streamline the coordination of all the security related work of the country”.
Minister in the Presidency Jackson Mthembu was briefing the media on Tuesday about the outcomes of Friday’s Cabinet meeting.
In his State of the Nation Address in February, President Cyril Ramaphosa announced the reestablishment of the council.
This is one of his measures to “enable the reconstitution of a professional national intelligence capability for South Africa”, flowing from the report and recommendations of the high-level review panel on the State Security Agency (SSA).
Mthembu also announced that the SSA would be restructured into two arms – one focusing on domestic and the other on foreign intelligence.
He said the “council will be responsible for the approval of the National Security Strategy, the National Intelligence priorities of the country and National Intelligence Estimates”.
“The council will be chaired by the president in his capacity as the commander-in-chief of the Armed and Security Forces.”
The members of the council will be Deputy President David Mabuza, State Security Minister Ayanda Dlodlo, Defence and Military Veterans Minister Nosiviwe Mapisa-Nqakula, Home Affairs Minister Aaron Motsoaledi, Police Minister Bheki Cele, Finance Minister Tito Mboweni and Cooperative Governance and Traditional Affairs Minister Nkosazana Dlamini-Zuma.
Mthembu said the council brought together all the security players.
“The president, as commander-in-chief, will then have access to all security matters, domestically and internationally.”
He said it would give Ramaphosa “line of sight”.
“That is the idea. Cabinet fully agrees our president must have a line of sight.”
Former president Jacob Zuma stopped making use of a National Security Council. It was, however, during Zuma’s time that the SSA was formed by amalgamating the National Intelligence Agency, which did domestic intelligence operations, and South African Secret Service, which did international operations.
The high-level review panel on the SSA, which was headed by former minister Sydney Mufamadi, found that, during Zuma’s presidency, elements of the SSA were repurposed and used to fight factional ANC political battles.
The panel’s report stated that, from about 2005, as the ANC’s factional divides grew, “there has been a growing politicisation and factionalisation of the civilian intelligence community based on the factions in the ANC”.
“This became progressively worse during the administration of the former president, with parallel structures being created that directly served the personal and political interests of the president and, in some cases, the relevant ministers. All this was in complete breach of the Constitution, the White Paper, the legislation and other prescripts,” the report reads.