Spying on political foes is an abuse of resources
THE latest intrigues about the abuse of intelligence services are not just tragic, they pose a serious risk to our democracy. Successive governments under both presidents Thabo Mbeki and Jacob Zuma have involved our national intelligence services in fighting battles within the African National Congress (ANC). In Mbeki’s term the issue was that of his perceived rivals — Mathews Phosa, Tokyo Sexwale and Cyril Ramaphosa — being accused of plotting against him.
Citizens who are seen as critics are labelled agents of foreign, western powers. The risks this abuse poses to our democracy is significant enough for us as citizens to stand up and demand a stop to it.
First, the national intelligence services should be fully engaged in assessing the real risks to the security of the state — not that of the governing party. Our borders are insecure and our natural resources are being destroyed, as evidenced by the more than 500 rhinos killed this year alone by syndicates who act with impunity.
Foreigners stream into our country without any restraint because of poor border policing. There are issues of crime intelligence to stem violent crime — especially in poor communities — that should be priorities instead of political intrigues.
Second, the quality of the intelligence reports themselves speak of lack of professionalism. How does it happen that our intelligence services do not know about the nature of the National Endowment for Democracy and its office holders? How can we feel safe with such blatant lack of knowledge about international affairs?
Third, the political culture that sees no distinction between the governing party, the president, the government and the state is a threat to the pillars of our constitutional democracy of human dignity, equality and freedom. Ours is a multi-party democracy that should encourage the freedom of association, expression and the free flow of ideas.... Read the full, comprehensive news article and discuss at Business Day