Cosatu warns Spy Bill is silent on powers of Inspector-General of Intelligence

Cosatu wants the Inspector-General of Intelligence to have more powers. File Picture

Cosatu wants the Inspector-General of Intelligence to have more powers. File Picture

Published Feb 20, 2024


The Congress of South African Trade Unions (Cosatu) has warned that the Spy Bill that was currently being processed by Parliament was seeking to relegate the role of Inspector-General of Intelligence to hold spies accountable.

Cosatu acting national spokesperson and parliamentary coordinator, Matthew Parks told members of Parliament on Tuesday that the Inspector-General of Intelligence must be given more powers to execute his duties of oversight against intelligence agencies.

The ad hoc committee in the National Assembly was receiving submissions from various stakeholders on the General Intelligence Laws Amendment Bill, known as the Spy Bill.

Parks said the Inspector-General of Intelligence, Imtiaz Fazel, must be allowed to do his work with greater powers.

“The Bill is largely silent on the powers of the Inspector-General of Intelligence. We feel the bill hasn’t addressed and acted on recommendations of the High-Level panel to clarify, protect and enhance the powers of the Inspector-General,” said Parks.

This was in reference to the Sydney Mufamadi panel report that was submitted to President Cyril Ramaphosa a few years ago on the issues that were affecting the functioning of the State Security Agency (SSA).

The report made damning findings against the SSA and some of the senior officials.

Parks said in view of what the Mufamadi panel found, the Inspector-General of Intelligence was the last line of defence against abuses in the intelligence agencies.

He should be given more powers in the bill to execute his mandate.

Parks also said they were concerned that the bill does not even give the Inspector-General powers to appoint his own staff.

“We fear the Minister will appoint staff (to the office of the) Inspector-General on behalf of the Inspector-General. It’s giving the impression that we are relegating the role of the Inspector-General,” he said.

Cosatu was concerned that the ad hoc committee wants to push through the bill when there were a few weeks left before Parliament concludes its term of office.

Parks said if the Spy Bill was rushed through Parliament, it would have the unintended consequence of further weakening the powers of the Inspector-General.

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