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DA calls for challenge to Cwele claim

The DA says it will ask the Inspector-General of Intelligence to investigate the accusation that local opponents to the Protection of State Information Bill are the paid “proxies” of foreign spies.

State Security Minister Siyabonga Cwele made the claim when he addressed the National Assembly on November 16, when the bill was approved by the National Assembly.

State Security Minister Siyabonga Cwele. Credit: GCIS

Now before the National Council of Provinces (NCOP), the bill is still the subject of controversy and protest.

Provincial public hearings, to be held in all nine provinces, will get under way this week and will continue until March.

Briefing the NCOP ad hoc committee processing the bill last week, Cwele suggested he had been misquoted, or misinterpreted, when asked about his statement. However, both Hansard and a copy of his speech showed he was quoted accurately.

Cwele has not answered questions about his claim, including whether he has evidence in support of it. He has also not said whether he was referring to the Right2Know campaign or not and whether the campaign – or any its members – was under surveillance by state intelligence agents.

Alf Lees, a DA NCOP member for KwaZulu-Natal, said he would be writing to the Inspector-General (IG) of Intelligence, advocate Faith Radebe, to ask that her office investigate Cwele’s “comments and (their) implications”.

“It is imperative that the IG establish whether Minister Cwele instructed the intelligence services to monitor any individuals or organisations opposed to the bill, and the reasons for such surveillance.

“Her office should also determine whether the minister has any knowledge of such surveillance or is receiving any intelligence reports in this regard,” Lees said.

“Given the seriousness of the minister’s comments, the IG must also investigate the conduct of the intelligence services and establish whether any individuals or organisations opposed to the ‘Secrecy Bill’, for example the Right2Know campaign, were or are under surveillance, on what grounds and the purposes thereof.”

Cwele’s spokesman, Brian Dube, was not immediately available for comment.

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