Here's what went wrong at State Security Agency

‘What went wrong?’ In answering this question, it must be said that the findings of the panel do not impugn every member of the SSA and its management.


PRETORIA - The findings of a high-level panel that rogue elements within the State Security Agency (SSA) were acting on instructions of African National Congress (ANC) factions and interfering with party processes has raised questions about the prospect of the same resources being used to undermine South Africa’s elections.

The country goes to the polls in three months’ time in one of the most contested elections in the democratic era.

The panel report which was released on Saturday revealed that an agency unit conducted unlawful operations at the behest of an ANC faction which supported former President Jacob Zuma.

It also spied on civil society organisations and infiltrated the Fees Must Fall movement, as part of a sophisticated effort at social engineering.

The Right 2 Know Campaign’s Thami Nkosi said the recommendations of the high-level panel should be implemented as a matter of urgency.

“We need to get rid of all the bad elements as soon as we possibly can because we do not know how much politicisation of the State Security Agency will still continue in the factional battles of the ANC, therefore, undermining the election processes of this country.”

The Institute for Security Studies’ Jakkie Cilliers said enough had been done to block access to financial resources being abused by rogue elements within the State Security Agency.

“Certainly, President [Cyril] Ramaphosa is well aware of the dangers that this present and it seems like that is a tap that has been closed off. So, I’m not concerned that we can find from state agencies in the upcoming elections.”

State Security Minister Dipuo Letsatsi-Duba insisted that action will be taken against those identified in the report.

The panel identified five key aspects which answer the question – what went wrong?

‘What went wrong?’ In answering this question, it must be said that the findings of the panel do not impugn every member of the SSA and its management, but focus on the things that went wrong. It identified five high-level answers to this question:

• Politicisation: The growing contagion of the civilian intelligence community by the
factionalism in the African National Congress (ANC) progressively worsened from

• Doctrinal Shift: From about 2009, there was a marked doctrinal shift in the
intelligence community away from the prescripts of the Constitution, the White
Paper on Intelligence, and the human security philosophy towards a much narrower,
state security orientation.

• Amalgamation: The amalgamation of the National Intelligence Agency and South
African Secret Service into the SSA did not achieve its purported objectives
and was contrary to existing policy.

• Secrecy: There is a disproportionate application of secrecy in the SSA stifling effective

• Resource abuse: The SSA had become a ‘cash cow’ for many inside and outside the

READ: High-level review panel report on State Security Agency

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(Edited by Mihlali Ntsabo)