Keep Politics Out of Intelligence Services

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INDICATIONS are that the Namibia Central Intelligence Service is at war with itself owing to partisan politics. Some members of the agency including its hierarchy, it is said, are caught between a rock and a hard place – loyalty to Swapo and the RDP.

Party politics has strayed into the ‘spooks’ such that they are said to be operating at cross-purposes and against each other. Some information is shared with outside instances and in contravention of the mandate of the agency while other information is withheld from those that need to know, it is reported.

Infighting is so rife that some agents including a senior member may be on their way out according to sources that say the agency has become a political battlefield. In some ways, tribal allegiance is also influencing what is going on within the ranks of the men and women in dark glasses, those in the know say.

If true and we do not doubt the authenticity of these reports, the matter constitutes a serious problem that could undermine the very reason why the agency was founded in the first place.

National intelligence is a priority among priorities without which public safety and security cannot be guaranteed. The function of the intelligence service and indeed all armed services is not to protect or prop up the party in power or any other party for that matter.

Rather, the job of the intelligence service is to protect the State and the people through timely collection of accurate information on potential and real threats facing the country and its people.

Among others, the intelligence service has to provide scenarios and threat analysis to the Head of State on possible or probable activities that have the calculated effect of endangering national security and public order so that appropriate remedial action is taken on time.

The intelligence service is a warning system on impending danger so that our nation is not caught unaware. While most people do not appreciate the crucial service rendered by these men and women owing to the secret nature of their work, no doubt they are a valuable source and guarantor of public safety and security.

Having said that, it is true that the intelligence service can be abused for political reasons. Similarly, intelligence agents can abuse their powers by trying to manipulate politics for self-gain and in support of their closest political allies. The allegations levelled against the Namibia Central Intelligence Services should thus be looked at in that context.

Ordinarily, our intelligence service has to be apolitical. They have no business meddling in party politics because (a) that is not their function in terms of the statutes and (b) Namibia is a democracy where free political activities are the norm.

Spying on individuals based on their political affiliation and using state apparatus such as the agency constitutes undue interference in legal political activities. The ‘spooks’ themselves have to stay clear of trying to influence politics one way or the other. That is not their mandate.

Countries that have politicised their security services are today reeling from serious problems of instability because the very services have become a threat. Namibia has to learn from the many instances in other countries where internal discord is caused by these forces.

The intelligence services owe allegiance to the State and not a political party.

They have to serve the people and the State through the Head of State.

A thorough audit of what is going on in our intelligence service is therefore necessary in order to de-politicise the service. The agency cannot afford to have factions operating in tandem and in support of political parties.

Lastly, the hierarchy of the intelligence service has to take the lead and de-politicise itself. It has to withdraw from active party politics and ensure that the agency renders professional services to the country and Head of State in keeping with its mission.

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