Ramaphosa intervenes in Zondo Inquiry and State Security Agency impasse

22 August 2018 - 17:50 By Karyn Maughan
The Presidency has reassured that it “has engaged SSA to prioritise completion of the process”.
The Presidency has reassured that it “has engaged SSA to prioritise completion of the process”.
Image: Esa Alexander

President Cyril Ramaphosa’s office says he has intervened in the standoff between the Zondo Inquiry and the State Security Agency (SSA) and has been assured that the agency will “prioritise” granting crucial security clearances to commission staff.

Deputy Chief Justice Raymond Zondo appealed to Ramaphosa for help earlier this month. Inquiry secretary Dr Khotso de Wee told TimesLIVE that the SSA’s failure to process the “top secret” clearances was “unacceptably delaying” the commission’s work.

The SSA in turn laid the blame for clearance delays firmly on unidentified inquiry staff who were “not taking this exercise seriously and making lots of excuses”.

Presidency spokesperson Khusela Diko told TimesLIVE on Wednesday that Ramaphosa’s office “has engaged SSA to prioritise completion of the process”.

“The SSA has committed to the same. The Presidency urges both parties to fully cooperate with one another including ensuring all necessary information and cooperation are provided to SSA by all commissioners.”

Zondo first flagged the security clearance problems experienced by his inquiry when he went to court last month to seek an extension of his commission’s timeframe from six months to two years.

In that extension application‚ Zondo revealed that his inquiry had been delayed in getting off the ground by‚ among other things‚ ongoing problems with staff obtaining security clearances.

“This process is managed by the State Security Agency. There have been delays in the completion of the process‚” Zondo said.

“I am told this is because of staff changes in the State Security Agency as well as requirements of members of the investigation team‚ and possibly other members of the commission‚ to have top secret clearance. There are still some security clearances that are outstanding from the State Security Agency.”

SSA spokesperson Brian Dube previously stressed that the Agency had put processes in place “to ensure that all members of the commission discharge their responsibilities‚ notwithstanding the challenges‚ some of which have been beyond our control”.

“From the 77 cases received‚ 98% of requests for provisional clearances have been dealt with. We are currently busy with upgrades and recent cases.

“It should be noted that we are experiencing challenges from some of people we are dealing with‚ with some not taking this exercise seriously and making lots of excuses thereby hindering the pace at which we would have liked to accelerate this effort‚” he said.


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