Cosatu calls on findings of Inspector-General of Intelligence to be binding

Cosatu said the Inspector-General of Intelligence should have more powers. File Picture

Cosatu said the Inspector-General of Intelligence should have more powers. File Picture

Published Apr 23, 2024


The Congress of the South African Trade Unions (Cosatu) has urged the National Council of Province’s ad hoc committee to amend the Spy Bill and make findings of the Inspector-General of Intelligence binding.

Cosatu’s Parliamentary coordinator Matthew Parks said the Inspector-General plays a key role in holding intelligence agencies accountable.

However, they heard during public hearings that his findings were not binding.

Parks was making submissions on Tuesday to the NCOP’s ad hoc committee that is processing the General Intelligence Laws Amendment Bill, known as the Spy Bill.

Inspector-General of Intelligence Imtiaz Fazel briefed the National Assembly’s ad hoc committee last December where he explained that his findings were not binding and this leads to intelligence agencies failing to act on them.

Parks said the National Assembly had failed to insert this clause when they amended the Spy Bill.

He called on the NCOP to act on the proposal and ensure that the findings of the Inspector-General were binding and this would make spy agencies accountable.

“We think the findings of the Inspector-General should be made binding upon security organs,” said Parks.

He said while they welcome some of the amendments made by the national assembly on the inspector-general, the issue of the findings was not addressed.

One of the changes approved by the national assembly was that the Inspector-General can appoint his own staff and have his budget.

“Whilst welcoming these positive improvements we believe it is still necessary to tighten the bill to assert that the findings of the Inspector-General on the intelligence organs it is constitutionally mandated to monitor, be made binding. This is key to ensuring his findings are not ignored and intelligence organs can be held accountable for any remedial action he determines. Chair, insert a clause that the findings of the Inspector-General are binding on the security organs,” said Parks, adding that this was done with the public protector.

Cosatu was also pleased that parliament had removed a controversial clause that churches and NGOs would have to be vetted before they are registered.

This clause in the Bill caused a huge public outcry leading to parliament to scrap it. In the revised version of the bill, it was removed.

Parks said they welcomed the change of heart by parliament when it removed the controversial clause to vet churches and NGOs.

“The initial draft of the Bill caused Cosatu deep concerns about extending of vetting to persons outside the employ or remit of the state, in particular civil society and religious institutions.”

He said in the past there have been abuses of intelligence services, but they hope there is a return to good governance.

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