Kas­rils blasts ‘id­i­otic’ lev­els of se­crecy

CityPress - - News - MARYNA LAMPRECHT maryna.lamprecht@city­press.co.za

For­mer min­is­ter of in­tel­li­gence Ron­nie Kas­rils be­lieves there is rea­son for con­cern about the “id­i­otic” lev­els of se­crecy in South Africa’s de­part­ment of state se­cu­rity.

In the past two weeks, State Se­cu­rity Min­is­ter David Mahlobo has clas­si­fied at least two an­swers to par­lia­men­tary ques­tions:

How much money his de­part­ment spent on flow­ers since 2009; and

Whether he and his col­leagues at­tended the Soc­cer World Cup in Brazil and how much this cost the de­part­ment.

As is cus­tom­ary, he did not ta­ble his replies in Par­lia­ment, but re­ferred them di­rectly to the joint stand­ing com­mit­tee on in­tel­li­gence.

This means that the in­for­ma­tion is clas­si­fied and will re­main un­known to or­di­nary South Africans.

Kas­rils spoke out about what he called this “ridicu­lous” se­crecy and said it was “ab­so­lutely wrong and stupid”. “This is the world of [the dic­ta­tor] Big Brother in Ge­orge Or­well’s 1984. For heaven’s sake, we are liv­ing in the 21st cen­tury.

“It is ter­ri­bly wrong and un­help­ful to re­ply to ques­tions in this way and it is, in fact, not the case that ev­ery­thing to do with safety and se­cu­rity should be con­fi­den­tial,” said Kas­rils.

Last week, City Press re­ported on the ex­is­tence of a unit for spe­cial op­er­a­tions in the State Se­cu­rity Agency (SSA). Staffed by rogue spies, it al­legedly set up cam­paigns to dis­credit civil ser­vants and is in­volved in cig­a­rette smug­gling.

Af­ter these re­ports, Mahlobo an­nounced this week that the in­spec­tor gen­eral of in­tel­li­gence would in­ves­ti­gate al­le­ga­tions of im­proper con­duct by SSA mem­bers.

He said his de­part­ment re­mained ac­count­able and would do its work in the spirit of the Con­sti­tu­tion.

Kas­rils said a good start for ac­count­abil­ity and trans­parency would be for the min­is­ter to an­swer sim­ple par­lia­men­tary ques­tions and make the replies pub­lic.

“What is se­cret about the flow­ers they or­dered? It is so ridicu­lous that it is ac­tu­ally laugh­able, ex­cept for the fact that it is danger­ous be­cause it pro­motes para­noia and se­crecy.”

Kas­rils said ex­treme se­crecy was not just bad for the coun­try and its peo­ple who had the right to know, but was also ex­tremely dam­ag­ing to the cred­i­bil­ity of the min­is­ter and the coun­try’s se­cu­rity in­sti­tu­tions.

Kas­rils said a re­view of the coun­try’s in­tel­li­gence in­sti­tu­tions was es­sen­tial to pre­vent cor­rup­tion and the abuse of power.

“This is a dis­ease that is spread­ing and must be stopped,” he said.

This did not mean that ev­ery­thing must be made pub­lic, said Kas­rils.

Mahlobo’s spokesper­son Brian Dube said the ques­tion was fully an­swered.

But be­cause of its “na­ture”, it was re­ferred to the stand­ing com­mit­tee, which would re­view it, he added.

Ron­nie Kas­rils

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from South Africa

© PressReader. All rights reserved.