COSATU presented its submission on the General Intelligence Laws Amendment Bill to Parliament today

The Congress of South African Trade Unions (COSATU) presented its submission on the General Intelligence Laws Amendment (GILA) Bill to the National Council of Provinces’ Ad-Hoc Committee: GILA Bill today.

Intelligence and security services are part of any modern state, what is critical is to ensure there are sufficient checks and balances, transparency and oversight mechanism in place in law to prevent the all too often abuse of such agencies.  South Africa saw the real costs of such shenanigans during the decade of state capture when the State Security Agency and other intelligences organs were wantonly abused for personal, criminal, factional and political purposes.

The Bill provides a welcome response to these recent abuses and more specifically to the High-Level Panel appointed by the President and led by Dr. Sydney Mufamadi that made clear recommendations on overhauling the existing and clearly weak legislation providing oversight on the security and intelligence services.

There are parts of the Bill that are straight forward, e.g. establishing a National Intelligence Academy and separating domestic and foreign intelligence services and should thus be supported. 

COSATU was deeply worried by several highly offensive clauses that were clearly unconstitutional in the initial draft of the Bill released in 2023.  We are pleased that following objections from the Federation and others, the State Security Agency removed many of these deeply problematic clauses. 

We welcome further critical and progressive amendments and improvements made to the Bill during the National Assembly hearings, including tightening definitions of threats to national and state security, judicial checks and balances for bulk monitoring of communications, clauses prohibiting any illegal instructions or acts by members of the security services as well as the separation of the budgets for the Office of the Inspector-General for Intelligence and the National Intelligence Coordinating Committee from that of the State Security Agency. 

Whilst COSATU welcomes these positive amendments to the Bill, we remain concerned that the powers of the Inspector-General for Intelligence are prone to being undermined or ignored by the state intelligence organs it is constitutionally obliged to monitor.  It is critical Parliament seize this moment and strengthen the Bill to ensure the findings of the Inspector-General are binding upon state intelligence organs it is constitutionally bound to monitor.

We hope Parliament will address these concerns and pass a final draft of the Bill that ensures the state’s security and intelligence agencies perform their constitutional mandates and are held accountable.

Issued by COSATU

For further information please contact:
Matthew Parks
Acting National Spokesperson & Parliamentary Coordinator 
Cell: 082 785 0687