Concerns raised over SSA’s involvement in Mkhwebane’s office operations

Public Protector Busisiwe Mkhwebane has revealed that her security manager is currently being trained by the State Security Agency in the classification of information.

A screengrab of Public Protector Busisiwe Mkhwebane during an appearance in Parliament. Picture: YouTube

CAPE TOWN – Alarm bells are ringing in Parliament over the extent of the involvement of the State Security Agency in the operation of the Office of the Public Protector.

The acting chief financial officer in the office, Nonhlanhla Dick, has been seconded from the SSA.

Public Protector Busisiwe Mkhwebane has also revealed that her security manager is currently being trained by the State Security Agency in the classification of information.

She told Parliament’s justice portfolio committee that the agency will also have a hand in the electronic case management system that her office is installing and its security.

The DA’s Werner Horne has questioned whether the State Security Agency’s extensive involvement in the Public Protector’s office is not eroding its independence:

“I think we must now, as Parliament and this committee, start to get worried whether the over-involvement of the State Security Agency in the operations of the office of the Public Protector is not potentially impacting on the ability of the office to perform its function in an impartial manner, subject only to the law.”

Mkhwebane defended the secondment from the SSA of her acting chief financial officer Dick on the basis that her cash-strapped office doesn’t have to pay her salary.

She also says the agency’s core mandate is to ensure all systems used by government are secure, that it wouldn’t be charging for its service, and that her security manager needed to know whether or not to classify information.

Asked by the justice committee chairperson Mathole Motshkega to “come clean” on her relations with the spy agency, Mkhwebane, whom the DA claimed was a spook during her interviews for the position, had this to say.

“I’m still repeating, chairperson, that I’m not working for SSA. SSA is there as an institution, a constitutional department, which is provided for. Why not use them, if they’ve got the resources to deliver the services?”