Independent and transparent special purpose vehicle needed at SSA - Fikeni

The SSA is exempt from making disclosures to the PSC, including the declaration of financial interests by its employees.

State Security Agency logo. Picture: ssa.gov.za

JOHANNESBURG - Newly-appointed Public Service Commission (PSC) head, Professor Somadoda Fikeni, said that there was a need for what he called an “independent and transparent special purpose vehicle” to oversee the conduct of State Security Agency (SSA) employees.

Fikeni, a long-serving academic, was recently appointed as commissioner of the Public Service Ethics and Standards Body by President Cyril Ramaphosa on a five-year term.

The SSA is exempt from making disclosures to the PSC, including the declaration of financial interests by its employees.

The PSC conducts regular audits of the financial interests of public servants not only to ascertain if there are cases of non-disclosure but also to investigate whether there is a conflict of interest where government employees are found to be in business with the state.

Fikeni explained that in light of recent revelations about alleged impunity among workers at the SSA, there was a need for the establishment of standards and systems to monitor staff.

The state capture commission heard how employees at the agency were not only hired irregularly but also incurred loans from the department.

Fikeni said that the PSC could assist by ensuring that the security establishment was held accountable for each cent of taxpayers’ money, without necessarily compromising state secrets.

“A special purpose vehicle which is entrusted with people who have gone through several vetting and that which may also include some of the opposition parties or independent professionals in society who have nothing to lose because in a constitutional democracy, you want to have a civilian government overseeing the security establishment and that is what happens in all other countries,” he said.

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