SUNDAY TIMES REPORT ON SPYING | BEMAWU

BEMAWU is concerned about the existence of SABC Board Minutes suggesting the SABC Board took a resolution to involve the SSA to assist it to “deal with the disclosure of confidential company information to third parties and the media.”

The mandate of the SSA is to provide the government with intelligence on domestic and foreign threats or potential threats to national stability, the constitutional order, and the safety and wellbeing of our people.

Examples of such threats are terrorism, sabotage and subversion. This allows the government to implement policies to deal with potential threats and to better understand existing threats and thus improve their policies.

Among the areas of focus of the SSA are the folllowing matters of national interest:

Terrorism, which refers to deliberate and premeditated attempts to create terror through symbolic acts involving the use or threats of lethal force for creating psychological effects that will influence a target group or individual and translate it into political or material results.

Subversion, which includes activities directed towards undermining by covert unlawful acts, or directed towards, or intended ultimately to lead to the destruction or overthrow by violence of the constitutionally established systems of government in South Africa.

Sabotage, which refers to activities or purposeful omissions conducted or planned for purposes of endangering the safety, security or defence of vital public or private property, such as installations, structures, equipment or systems.

Espionage, which refers to unlawful or unauthorised activities conducted for acquiring information or assets relating to sensitive social, political, economic, scientific or military matters of South Africa or for their unauthorised communication to a foreign state.

Organised Crime, which includes analysis of the origins and reasons behind organised crime, the identification of key role players, the nature and extent, as well as the modus operandi of organised crime syndicates.

It is clear that the mandate of the SSA is not to deal with the disclosure of confidential company information to third parties and the media.

In an interview with SABC News, the Chairperson of the Board, Mr Bongumusa Makhathini correctly stated that the SABC is like any other company in South Africa, that needs to protect its commercial sensitive information.

Any other company in South Africa cannot employ the SSA to deal with the disclosure of confidential company information to third parties and the media.

The SABC also cannot do so.

Being a National Keypoint does not warrant the SABC to get the SSA to deal with the disclosure of confidential company information, unless such disclosure was aimed at domestic and foreign threats or potential threats to national stability, the constitutional order, and the safety and wellbeing of our people.

It is well understood and trite that the SSA deals with terrorism , espionage, sabotage, subversion and organised crime. It’s resources cannot be abused to threaten and discourage employees or anyone holding information about irregularities at the SABC to report on it.

VETTING OF EMPLOYEES

BEMAWU is not against vetting employees. This is normal in any recruitment process. This however cannot be done by the SSA.

The SABC however is a public broadcaster, not a law enforcement agency or secret service where vetting by the State Security Agency must be done.

The SABC, like any other company in South Africa must use its own human resources department or private companies to do the vetting, which is understood to be employment related.

What is of concern is the statement by the Chairperson of the Board, saying in an interview “the SABC could have gone to any other private security company to do the vetting”, which is an indication the SABC are using the SSA to vet employees.

In all information disclosed, BEMAWU has not seen any strategies being shared with third parties, unless such strategy formed part of a report of irregularities at the SABC or for that matter any confidential information being shared with the media or third parties.

In as much as the SSA may be experts in the protection of confidential information, its resources cannot be abused to help the SABC to deal with the disclosure of information, unless such information relates to the security of the SABC as a National Keypoint and it falls within the mandate of the SSA.

It leaves staff frightened and extremely uneasy if an agency, supposed to investigate espionage, terrorism, sabotage, subversion and organised crime are involved to stop the leakage of information considered as whistle blowing and pointing out irregularities.

This move by the Board will most certainly stop employees from raising issues of concern in respect of governance and irregularities.

The SABC must not continue to involve the SSA in internal SABC affairs, unless it falls within SSA mandate.

Of further concern is the statement by the Board chairperson where the SABC seeks to secure Board minutes by preventing it to be distributed or printed.

Its only Board members and the company secretary that are able to distribute and print Board minutes. It then seems as if there is serious mistrust amongs board members, which cannot be conducive to the public broadcaster.

DRACONIAN EMPLOYMENT CLAUSE

BEMAWU has also been made aware of a draconian clause being put in all fixed term employee’s contracts of employment where employees were required to agree to the interception of ALL their communications, work related and private by the SABC.

This include all telephone calls and emails.

This is not something one would expect from a progressive democratic organisation.

It is shocking and of major concern to say the least to, in a country where almost a third of the population is unemployed, it becomes a pre-condition to “consent” to have ALL your communications intercepted or else you don’t have a job.

It seems the SABC is in fact firmly in the business if intercepting employee’s communications.

We demand that this clause be removed from the contracts of employment of all employees with immediate effect.

BEMAWU
per: Hannes du Buisson