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DA: Statement by Theo Coetzee, Democratic Alliance shadow minister on state security, on state owned enterprises (23/05/2010)

23rd May 2010


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In one of the most disturbing and profoundly undemocratic interviews I have read before, the Minister of State Security has openly set out a plan for the intelligence services to investigate the country's various parastatals and State-Owned Entities. It is not the job of the intelligence services to be investigating how well public servants are doing their job. It has nothing to do with state security or anything which in any way can be legitimately seen as falling into the ambit of the intelligence services.

I will be writing to the Chairperson of the Joint Standing Committee on State Security, to request that the Minister be called before the Committee, to explain in full detail the nature of his proposal and on what possible grounds he can justify this exercise. I believe he will be hard pressed to come up with a credible explanation.

There is something deeply wrong when a government starts to use its spies and spooks to investigate itself. It is the sign of a government which is so profoundly corrupt and mismanaged it cannot rely on its own systems, structures and people to manage its administration. It is borne of distrust, motivated by control and power and runs against many of the principles and values contained in our Constitution.

The problem here is the legislative mandate of the intelligence services. There is currently a recommendation that that mandate be changed so that the NIA has a narrow, national security-focused mandate. It is quite clear that, based on this story, this need is now more acute than ever before. We cannot have a situation where service delivery problems are met by state security action. That is profoundly undemocratic. If there is a problem with our SOEs, that problem must be addressed and fixed by the Department of Public Enterprises. A good place to start would be by scrapping cadre deployment and privatizing our parastatals.

The irony is staggering. On the one hand, you have an administration and ruling party so obsessed with control and power that for years it has defended cadre deployment and the appointment of party political loyalists to key administrative positions, despite the lack of the appropriate skills or experience. Then, when those institutions go into administrative meltdown, it deploys its own security services to monitor them.

Cadre deployment has become like a drug for the ANC. It is profoundly destructive and unhealthy and yet, so addicted is the ruling party to it that, just like a junkie, it starts to alter its behaviour, making reckless and ill-considered decisions all just to maintain its habit. It is sad to watch.

But we also cannot just watch. The DA stands firmly opposed to this idea and everything it represents. We will use the committee to fight it and I will be raising the matter in parliament.



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