Minister David Mahlobo: Media briefing on State Security 2015/16 Budget Vote

This year our country celebrates 60 years of the Freedom Charter - the people’s collective vision for our future. As a country and her people we are indeed on course in creating a truly united, non-racial, non-sexist, democratic and prosperous society as envisioned in the Freedom Charter and our constitution.  However we are the first to admit that more still needs to be done in the construction of this national democratic society.

Over the past 10 months our department has been hard at work in its pursuit of creating a safe and secure South Africa, working alongside other departments in the security cluster.

Our preoccupation is to create a stable domestic situation where our citizens can exercise their constitutional rights, allowing our 21 year old democracy to flourish.

On the occasion of our budget vote and policy speech presentation, we used the opportunity to brief Parliament on the progress we are making with implementing our programmes in terms of our mandate.

Our work is in support of the priorities as outlined by President Zuma during the State of the Nation Address (SONA) on 12 February 2015 including the nine point plan for the radical transformation of the South African economy.

We are pleased by the steps taken by President Zuma and his able leadership in ending the violence against foreign nationals and putting measures in place for sustainable solutions on matters of migration and concerns raised by our citizens from issues of unemployment, economic opportunities and crime. 

We also commend members of the intelligence community who worked with other law enforcement agencies to restore calm.  Further, we are heartened by our members’ contribution in Operation Fiela, a successful operation to clean our communities of havens for criminals. We appreciate the positive response by our communities in this regard. Indeed it is encouraging us to do more.

This year marks twenty years of intelligence work in support of the democratic constitutional order. There is no better way in celebrating the national security achievements than to rededicate ourselves to continue the good story of the further consolidation of our democracy through the creation of conditions of peace and stability.

During the course of our work, we have taken note of the rapidly growing non-traditional security threats which involve the struggle for resources embedded in the pursuit of energy, security, environmental degradation, forced immigration, international terrorism and insurgency. Included in these are other threats of ascendary of non-state actors in drug trafficking, proliferation of arms and ammunition, money laundering, financial crime and illicit economy.

As we continue with our work, we shall focus on these threats, ensuring that we can advise government accordingly.

International terrorism and globalization have resulted in softening of borders. Unfortunately this has exacerbated security problems to unacceptably dangerous dimensions. Terrorism has moved to centre stage in the security discourse, necessitating closer cooperation amongst nations of the globe.

The barbaric killing of innocent students and scores injured in Garissa University College in Kenya, the beheading of 21 Egyptians by ISIS and attacks of mosques have become the biggest challenge of all times for all nations. 

Our own experience wherein a 15 year old girl was lured into ISIS is further testimony of this stark reality. Our quick intervention in this regard, working closely with the law enforcement agencies, ensured that we can prevent this from happening. As we have indicated, there is a global trend of online recruitment which targets mainly young people active on social media platforms.

We reiterate our message to the broader society to be vigilant and exercise caution when engaging in various platforms provided in cyberspace. In the case of parents, we need to supervise our children’s online activity, without impacting on their rights to privacy.

We will engage the social cluster of government departments about public campaigns aimed at informing our people about the risks associated with cyberspace.

As people we must recognize that cybersecurity system’s success depends on understanding the safety of the whole system, not merely protecting its individual parts. Consequently cybercrime and cyber-terrorism must be fought on the personal, social, and political fronts as well as the electronic front.

As part of our plans, we will be working with universities and other research institutes to build the cybersecurity pipeline through competitive scholarship, fellowship and internship programs to attract top talent and develop systems that have command and control in our hands.

Corruption poses a serious and direct threat to our reconstruction and development initiatives, good governance, service delivery, and ultimately stability, particularly at local level. We will continue focusing on corruption within the public service and private sector.

As part of the Anti-Corruption Inter-Ministerial Committee, the State Security Agency is playing a critical role in the initiatives geared towards combatting corruption. These include prioritisation of vetting of government departments and state owned enterprises and provision of counterintelligence awareness and training programmes aimed at raising the security competence of state employees.

The issue of transnational crime networks involving small arms, drug trafficking and money laundering is assuming serious importance. Learning from our past mistakes, we shall create a dedicated capacity within the State Security Agency to support SARS in combating illicit economy and other law enforcement agencies.

Amongst the priorities identified for the 2015/16 are the following:

This financial year, 2015/16 we plan to move with speed to:

  • Enhance the institutional cybersecurity capacity
  • Finalise the national cybersecurity policy
  • Present, in conjunction with security cluster departments, the Cyber Security Bill before Cabinet
  • Build on our first symposium work held this year to promote partnership and public cybersecurity awareness campaign designed to increase public understanding of cyber threats and promote simple steps the public can take to increase their safety and security online.
  • Strengthen our cooperation in this space with our SADC, AU and BRICS partners through existing mechanism.

We are also on course to build a strong organisation that is geared towards the challenges of the 21st century. Last year we conducted an organisational culture survey and developed a remedial action plan to address issues raised. 

We will continue to provide our members with all the necessary support and resources to discharge their responsibilities. Good performance will be recognised and in the same vein there will be consequences for poor performance and ill-discipline.

We have played significant role in supporting our government on matters of peace, security and national interest.  We will continue to play our part by providing dynamic, reliable and timeous intelligence to advance our national security and interests.

In conclusion, we want to reassure South Africans that the country doesn’t face any discernable threats. However, we will continue to work hard and remain vigilant at all times. We call on every citizen of this country to join us and be part of the effort to ensure that indeed all of us are and feel safe.

Brian Fikani Dube, Head of Communication
Cell: 082 418 3389

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