Zuma congratulates the spooks

Text of president's address to intelligence services day

Address by His Excellency President JG Zuma on the occasion of the Intelligence Services Day; Musanda, Rietvlei Farm, Pretoria, December 3 2009

Minister of State Security, Hon Dr S Cwele;
Ministers and Deputy Ministers,
Chairperson and Honourable Members of the Joint Standing Committee on Intelligence;
Director-General of the State Security Agency;
Heads of Intelligence Components;
Coordinator for Intelligence
Inspector-General of Intelligence;
Ladies and Gentlemen,

Allow me to express our sincere thanks for this opportunity to address you on the annual commemoration of Intelligence Services Day.

It enables us to set aside time to pay tribute to the essential role played by those South African patriots, who toil silently in the shadows on behalf of our government and in the name of our people, with no fame or fortune, to safeguard our hard-won freedoms.

Through our wreath-laying ceremony at the Memorial Wall and the medals we award, we bring a message of appreciation from a grateful nation who rest easier in the knowledge that our democracy is safe and protected.

Colleagues and members;

We are celebrating fifteen years of intelligence work in the democratic era, both the trials and tribulations. We are celebrating because we were able to overcome any challenges that came our way and have managed to maintain a professional e service.

In 1994 we amalgamated different services into one intelligence community under the guidance of our Constitution. The intelligence services have executed their duties with excellence in ensuring the security of our nation.

In May this year we changed the name of the Ministry to State Security, and are working to establish a single department of intelligence, the State Security Agency.

We speak of state security because our primary task is to defend our people against any hostile force aimed at undermining their sovereignty and disrupting the national programmes.

This country is not immune to these kinds of threats, and at all times requires adequate institutions and resources to mitigate them.

These lead us to undertake a comprehensive review of legislation governing intelligence structures, ethics of work, quality of intelligence product and the infrastructure required to be efficient.

We also plan to improve the capacity of intelligence through an increase in spending on technical capacities and tradecraft training.

We are also guided by the objective to build an ‘intelligence officer for life'.

To pursue this objective we need to develop sustainable mechanisms to retain the skilled personnel. This will enable us to build expertise and ensure the quality of our intelligence work.

Again, we need to tailor-make a strategy on how we engage the veterans of intelligence in enhancing our work, exploring the use of their past networks and employing their skills in tradecraft training and enhancing professionalism.

Ladies and gentlemen,

The changes in the global environment, including the recent financial crisis, have brought new dimensions in the analysis of national security. The threat to national security is changing.

Individual nations constitute less of a threat while criminal and terrorist organisations show high levels of belligerence, are powerful and violent.

In addition, the demands and expectations of citizens are changing. The emphasis on human security, and the explosion of information has led to the borderless movement of people and finances. These rapid global changes create uncertainty in the future of any nation.

More than any other time, we need to emphasise the significance of early warning and the ability to adequately respond to the unknown emanating internally or elsewhere in the world.

The services must fine-tune and strengthen the analysis functions in order to timeously, accurately and factually forewarn and advise decision-makers. These are all critical responsibilities.

We must also bear in mind that Government has identified five priorities; education, health care, creation of decent and sustainable jobs, the fight against crime and rural development.

To realise progress on these priorities we need the state security services to develop a sustainable and measurable strategy to protect and support the government programmes from disruption and ensure an enduring security.

The vehicle towards this is the national security strategy, which must define clear roles for each of the security agencies in pursuing these priorities.

Our strategy seeks to mobilise communities, citizens and all organisations into a joint effort to harness the new opportunities and strengthen the sense of unity in responding to the challenges of defending our country.

The national security strategy must emphasise cooperation and integration of systems amongst the departments and components of government in the fight against crime and corruption.

It must help us to improve migration control and border management, and in this case we must move with speed in the establishment of the Border Management Agency.

We must also prioritise the management of internal stability, protection of information and national infrastructure, facilitation of customs and trade; as well as the pursuit of peace and security in the continent.

The strategy must give impetus to the fight against crime and corruption. We have made a commitment to lower the levels of crime in the country.

Our intelligence community must therefore strengthen the already existing formidable and unrelenting partnership with the police in declaring war against crime and elements of internal instability.

One issue that must be prioritised is to look into the violence that has accompanied protests in communities.

The right to peaceful and democratic protest is recognised by the Constitution, and must be defended by our security agencies and all of us.

However, what worries us is the element of violence and destruction of property. We need to know why our people would choose to be violent instead of pursuing their rightful demands in a peaceful manner.

The failure to detect these in some quarters is declared as "intelligence failure". We expect our services to timeously identify such threats.

The explosion of the xenophobic attacks in 2008 is a case in point. Our detection mechanisms must be sharper and more effective and efficient, without intruding into the lives of citizens unnecessarily.

Colleagues and members,

The existence or outbreak of war in any part of the continent affects and threatens our stability as a country. Our security and development is intertwined with the overall peace and security of the continent.

The pledges we make in our foreign policy require that we avail our resources at all times to assist and intervene in the crisis situation to find everlasting solutions. We must continue to assist as much as we can, in the interests of our own stability and security.

Ladies and gentlemen, in recent times several countries in Africa have moved towards Constitutional guidance on the work of intelligence.

This confirms the correctness of our system in ensuring accountability and transparency in the work our intelligence structures do.

In the conduct of this work, we commit ourselves to the supremacy of the Constitution and its provisions.

We will continue to cooperate with the oversight institutions; the Joint Standing Committee on Intelligence, the Office of the Inspector-General, the Auditor-General and others, in reviewing performance, measuring the value of money and ensuring respect for the rule of law.

Accordingly, we will expedite the Parliamentary process to enact amendments to the Protection of Information Act, to protect the integrity of state information, deal with espionage and eliminate information peddling.

These would assist in ensuring that we give key state institutions sufficient protection, and the possession of state information without authority and rumour mongering based on state information shall be punishable by law.

At the same time we appeal to all that we should respect the Constitutional mandate of the intelligence community to keep some information at their disposal secret as required to maintain national security.

Ladies and gentlemen,

As people who should be aware of everything I am sure that many of you know that today is the International Day of Persons with Disabilities. The theme for 2009 is, "Making the Millennium Development Goals Inclusive: Empowerment of persons with disabilities and their communities around the world".

This theme has been selected to draw attention to and promote a better understanding of disability issues and mobilize action for the empowerment of persons with disabilities.

In the same vein, we are still going through the 16 Days of Activism on no Violence against Women and Children. We must uphold women and children's human rights as human rights and ensure their protection from violence and abuse at all times.

To members of the intelligence community of the Republic,

Let me remind you that this is the time for renewal. You must renew your loyalty and commitment to the profession of intelligence and the Constitution.

You must strive to maintain high level of professionalism, integrity and honesty in the conduct of your work.

Let us keep and maintain the legacy of those who have passed on and the living veterans of intelligence, as we protect South Africans and our guests and ensure that they live in peace and harmony.

Please be assured of our support at all times as you conduct your work.

I thank you.

Source: The Presidency

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