Wed. Jul 24th, 2024

The Congress of South African Trade Unions (Cosatu) has cautioned against the current version of the Spy Bill under consideration in Parliament, expressing concerns that it undermines the role of the Inspector-General of Intelligence in holding spies accountable. During a session with members of Parliament on Tuesday, Cosatu’s acting national spokesperson, Matthew Parks, emphasized the need to enhance the Inspector-General’s powers for effective oversight of intelligence agencies. The ad hoc committee in the National Assembly is currently reviewing submissions from various stakeholders on the General Intelligence Laws Amendment Bill, commonly known as the Spy Bill.

Parks highlighted that the bill lacks clarity on the powers of the Inspector-General of Intelligence, particularly in addressing recommendations from the High-Level panel, chaired by Sydney Mufamadi. The panel’s report, submitted to President Cyril Ramaphosa, exposed significant issues within the State Security Agency (SSA) and raised concerns about its functioning.

According to Parks, the Inspector-General of Intelligence, Imtiaz Fazel, should be granted more substantial powers to fulfill the crucial role of being the last line of defense against potential abuses within intelligence agencies. Cosatu also expressed worry that the bill fails to empower the Inspector-General to appoint his own staff, raising concerns that the Minister may take charge of such appointments.

Furthermore, Cosatu criticized the rushed timeline for pushing through the bill, cautioning that hasty approval could unintentionally weaken the Inspector-General’s authority rather than strengthen it. The trade union urged Parliament to consider the implications of passing the Spy Bill in its current form before the conclusion of the parliamentary term.

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