Instead of spying on Mbeki's opponents, it has now been decided that the NIA will focus on their real task which is to protect national security.
This is yet more evidence of Mbeki's interference in the various state institutions to further his own aims which was to hold on to power after his second term ended.
Too bad it has backfired and my guess Zuma is going to return the favour when he gets into power. It couldn't happen to a nicer fellow.
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South Africa's spy network is to be completely overhauled to ensure spies stick to their mandate of gathering, correlating, evaluating and analysing domestic intelligence, and fulfil their counter-intelligence functions.
At a seminar at the Institute for Security Services (ISS) on Thursday, Intelligence Minister Ronnie Kasrils admitted that changes were necessary in the intelligence sector.
The National Intelligence Agency (NIA) is in the spotlight at the Ginwala Commission of Inquiry over its role in the suspension of prosecuting boss Vusi Pikoli.
At the seminar, DA parliamentary leader Sandra Botha challenged Kasrils, saying the government wasn't taking the security services seriously.
The two were speaking at the start of the two-month public discussion, which is part of countrywide public dialogue series, themed "Intelligence and Democracy in South Africa".
The seminar is aimed at providing an opportunity to interrogate and debate the nature and function of the intelligence sector. It involves intelligence experts such as: Laurie Nathan, of the ministerial review commission on intelligence; Intelligence Inspector-General Zolile Ngcakani; Barry Gilder, the former co-ordinator of the National Intelligence Co-ordinating Committee; and, representatives of the SA Human Rights Commission, the Freedom of Expression Institute and the ISS.
Botha said the security services had lost their credibility because of a spate of intelligence scandals and their inability to stop the xenophobic violence.
"If intelligence couldn't predict where the violence was going to occur, who should have done this? "The NIA's mandate needs to be clearer. It has to be narrowed so we know who can and does what," she said.
In a statement, the ISS said questions should be asked regarding the domestic intelligence mandate of NIA and the fact that domestic intelligence, as defined in the legislation, included any internal activity, factor or development that threatened the country's stability.
"With the mandate as it is, the NIA is empowered to conduct domestic intelligence-gathering operations into issues such as the succession debate and Zuma's trial because these events could have an impact on the stability of the state.
"This is an incredibly broad mandate and legally empowers the domestic intelligence agency to operate in a multitude of spheres.
"If this mandate was limited to internal activities or developments that could lead to violence or threaten the security of the state and its citizens, the activities of the NIA could be curbed."
Denying that the NIA had lost credibility because of scandals such as the Special Browse Mole Report, Kasrils pointed out that while the overhaul was needed, it was not because of issues such as corruption.
"Other countries have had to terminate their intelligence agencies because of corruption, but we're not in that same situation."
He agreed with Botha and the ISS about clarifying the NIA's mandate: "The mandate must be narrowed and focused."
Kasrils admitted they had had serious setbacks, and highlighted the abuse of power within the NIA. The NIA had embarked on a series of reforms for its members, such as reviews and assessments to strengthen control over operations.