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DA vows to block Burgess from intelligence job

The Inspector General of Intelligence is appointed by the President on the recommendation of Parliament.

Parliamentary workers singing in public gallery of National Assembly. Picture: Gaye Davis/EWN.
Democratic Alliance,ANC,John Steenhuisen,Cecil Burgess,Inspector General of Intelligence
Local

CAPE TOWN – The Democratic Alliance (DA) has vowed to block any attempt this week to get former African National Congress (ANC) Member of Parliament (MP) Cecil Burgess appointed the next watchdog over the country’s spies.

The Inspector-General of Intelligence is appointed by the President on the recommendation of Parliament.

The post has been vacant since March 2015.

The ANC postponed a vote on the issue last year because it was unable to get the two-thirds majority support for its favoured candidate.

To get Burgess appointed, the governing party would need opposition buy in.

On Wednesday, the National Assembly is scheduled to put the matter to a vote.

Burgess’s appointment is controversial because he steered the so-called secrecy bill through Parliament.

DA Chief Whip John Steenhuisen said, “We’re still very confident that they don’t have the numbers to appoint Mr. Burgess but I think either what it will do is put the issue to bed once and for all. It’s now been a year since the vacancy occurred and it’s obviously untenable situation for that to continue.”

Steenhuisen said Parliament has to fill the post with an impartial candidate who will hold the country's intelligence services accountable.

The party has suggested the relevant legislation be amended so that a retired judge be appointed to head the office.

Meanwhile, the ANC has appealed to opposition parties to put their “narrow party interests” aside so that the post can finally be filled.

Pressure is mounting on Parliament to get moving on filling the post; the Right to Know Campaign has threatened to go to court if the matter is not finalised.

(Edited by Leeto M Khoza)

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