National Assembly approves General Intelligence Laws Amendment Bill

National Assembly
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The National Assembly has this week approved the General Intelligence Laws Amendment Bill, GILAB. The Bill aims to provide for an independent Inspector-General on Intelligence and to separate the domestic and foreign service intelligence agency.

The Bill aims to correct past irregularities in the intelligence agencies going back to 2009. But these amendments have been delayed for years.

The Bill will also include recommendations of the Zondo Commission of Inquiry, as well as recommendations by the Mufamadi High Level Panel on Intelligence.

Intelligence Committee Chairperson, Jerome Maake explains: “The establishment of the SSA in 2009 through a presidential proclamation was irregular deviating from constitutional requirements. Despite subsequent legislative amendments challenges persisted leading to the formation of the high level review panel in 2018 to address issues within SSA . The general intelligence laws amendment bill GILAB 2023 seeks to implement the recommendations of the high level panel by undoing the SSA and creating distinct domestic and foreign intelligence services, clarifying mandates and addressing legal and procedural shortcomings.”

Opposition parties have welcomed the Bill as well as the scrapping of the Cabinet Bill that proposed the vetting of NGO’s which led to 23 000 written submissions criticising the Bill.

Democratic Alliance (DA) MP, Dianne Kohler-Barnard explains: “For example, the inspector general who does oversight over the SSA had staff appointed by the SSA , financed by the SSA and communication run by the SSA. Well not anymore. So the JSCI which only compromises of and SA members put our foot down and announced we had enough in February speeches and proceeded to handcraft a committee bill then allegedly leaked version of the cabinet bill made its way to an unsuspecting and infuriated public.”

Economic Freedom Fighters (EFF) MP, Dr Mbuyiseni Ndlozi says, “Also key was the looting and corruption of top generals in the police and military of secret accounts. The bill seeks to fight this abuse. However, the centre of the abuse over the years has been weak oversight capability both the IGI and JSCI of parliament. Therefore, we must welcome the new laws regarding the appropriation of the IGI not being not been subject to SSA.”

Inkatha Freedom Party (IFP) MP Nsikayezwe Cebekhulu says privacy must be guarded.

“We must ensure that the government does not have unfettered powers to monitor citizens communications under the guise of national security. The proposed bill will allow the government to monitor all South African citizens telephone conversations, email, private messages. If it can be justified as a foreign and complicit component. While we understand the need for surveillance in exceptional circumstances we urge that more significant checks and balances be put in place to ensure lawfulness and oversight.”

African Christian Democratic Party (ACDP) MP Steve Swart says many churches, faith based organisations and NGOs was outrages to go under some sort of vetting.

“Churches and other faith based organisations were outraged that they and in fact all NGOs were to undergo some sort of vetting as contained in the leaked cabinet bill. This resulted in thousands of written submissions made to the ad hoc committee from churches and other faith based organisations who were concerned that they would be subject to vetting.”

National Freedom Party (NFP) MP Munzoor Shaik Emam says, “Israel had a influence on the apartheid government in South Africa pre 1994 and we have not broken that chain and it is very important if we want to take control of our country then we need to deal with that matter urgently.”

AL Jama-ah Leader, Ganief Hendricks says their concern was to give the general of intelligence for more independence and power.

“Our concerns and amendments to give the inspector general of intelligence more power and more independence and we would like to thank the minister for going the extra mile to make sure that the inspector general on intelligence is not a lame duck.”

The Bill be taken to the National Council of Provinces (NCOP) for concurrence before it is sent to the President to be signed into law.

National Assembly passes General Intelligence Laws Amendment Bill: