R2K notes that Parliament has restarted the process of appointing the Inspector General of Intelligence, the civilian watchdog on South Africa’s state security structures. In the last few days Parliament has re-advertised the position, with a closing date of 28 October 2016.
This follows a nearly two year delays in filling this vacancy. It is regrettable this latest development has only come after Right2Know’s attorneys, the Legal Resources Centre, advised Parliament that further delays could result in an urgent application to the Constitutional Court. (See letter of demand here.)
State-security structures have been operating without this constitutionally-required oversight since March 2015.
In this time, we have seen mounting scandals in the intelligence structures
- Increasing concerns by journalists, activists and union structures that their phones are being tapped and their movements being monitored.
- The UN Human Rights Committee has issued damning findings of South Africa’s surveillance regime.
- Media exposes have detailed the shadowy use of ‘Grabber’ devices by South Africa’s security structures.
- State Security Minister David Mahlobo has repeatedly made dangerous remarks implying student protests and other civil society structures are linked to some ‘regime change’ agenda.
- The Sunday Times reported that an intelligence operative in Parliament had labelled Right2Know as agents of a foreign government.
- Since March 2015, Right2Know and allied organisations have lodged numerous complaints at the vacant Office of the Inspector General, and they have piled up.
During this time we have consistently engaged Parliament’s intelligence committee to urge them to fill the vacant position.
The Inspector General of Intelligence is a public watchdog and must be appointed through a public process, following the standards of openness that have been set in the recent Public Protector appointment.
Two weeks ago our attorneys at the Legal Resources Centre wrote to Parliament’s intelligence committee stating that:
- Parliament’s intelligence committee must commit to a public timeframe which ensures that an Inspector General of Intelligence can be nominated by the end of Parliament’s term this year.
- This process must include making public the names and CVs of all qualifying candidates, including those who were not shortlisted.
- The process must include reasonable time for the public to comment on the candidates and participate in an open and transparent process – no closed doors.
Failing this, we will have to approach the Constitutional Court to ensure that Parliament fulfils its constitutional duty to fill the Inspector General vacancy. (Download LRC’s letter here.)
According to Parliament’s advertisement, interested candidates have until 28 October 2016 to apply to become the next Inspector General of Intelligence. It is vital that an independent watchdog is appointed to this office to protect the public against further abuses of power by the security structures. This is your moment to step forward!