South Africa Table of Contents
The military has a long history of intelligence gathering and evaluation, but military intelligence agencies were virtually independent of each other and of other government agencies for much of this history. In 1962 the Directorate of Military Intelligence was established to coordinate the collection and the management of defense-related information among the military services. In 1969 the government established the Bureau of State Security (BOSS) to coordinate military, domestic, and economic intelligence. During the 1970s, BOSS became embroiled in several unethical projects and government scandals that seriously undermined its credibility. In 1978 President P. W. Botha established the Department of National Security to strengthen his control over the intelligence community and to incorporate it into his Total Strategy against opposition to the state. Botha himself held the cabinet portfolio on national intelligence and continually stressed the need for community-wide coordination.
In 1981 the Department of National Security, renamed the Directorate of National Intelligence, increased the emphasis on military intelligence and military access to all other forms of intelligence. The directorate worked closely with the military, coordinating efforts among intelligence agencies, and using directorate analyses and recommendations to formulate security policy.
In the uneasy atmosphere of the mid-1980s, the definition of "enemies of the state" expanded rapidly, extending the role of the intelligence community. Various intelligence services engaged in operations involving harassment, assault, disappearance, and sometimes the murder of antiapartheid activists.
In the early 1990s, the government began reorganizing the country's intelligence-gathering network. The Intelligence Services Act (No. 38) of 1994, the National Strategic Intelligence Act (No. 39) of 1994, and the Parliamentary Committee on Intelligence Act (No. 40) of 1994 established a National Intelligence Coordinating Committee (NICC) to present coordinated intelligence analyses to the president and the cabinet.
The NICC oversees the operations of the four arms of the intelligence community. These are the National Intelligence Agency (NIA), which is responsible for domestic intelligence gathering; the South African Secret Service (SASS), which manages foreign intelligence; the military intelligence agencies, and the police intelligence unit. The NICC is chaired by the deputy minister of intelligence services, who is appointed by the president and who reports directly to the president. (There is no minister in charge of intelligence activities.)
The 1994 legislation also authorizes military intelligence units to collect foreign intelligence and, under specific, limited circumstances, to collect domestic intelligence. It does not authorize any military intelligence agency to conduct domestic intelligence gathering on a routine basis.
One overriding concern among senior government officials in the postapartheid era is guaranteeing the protection of the individual against interference by the agencies under their control. To help protect citizens against such abuse, the president appoints an inspector general for the NIA and for the SASS. The two inspectors general report to the Joint Committee on Defence, which includes members of both houses of Parliament, appointed jointly by the president and the speaker of the National Assembly. This committee must report to both houses of Parliament at least once each year concerning the state of intelligence gathering nationwide.
South Africa's defense budget grew almost tenfold in nominal terms between 1975 and 1989, from R1 billion to R9.4 billion (for value of the rand--see Glossary). In constant dollar value, however, the increase was modest--from US$3 billion per year in the early 1980s to US$3.43 billion per year in the last half of that decade, based on 1988 prices. Defense spending averaged 16.4 percent of government budgets in the 1980s; it ranged from a high of 22.7 percent in 1982 to 13.7 percent in 1987, but rose to 15.7 percent of government spending in 1989.
Although South Africa's defense spending was high in comparison with economic output in the 1980s, the "trend toward militarization" in that decade, which was noted by many observers in analyzing South Africa's apartheid-era spending, was not evident in global comparisons. Out of 144 countries surveyed by the United States Arms Control and Disarmament Agency in 1989, South Africa ranked thirtieth in total military expenditures, forty-fourth in military spending as a percentage of gross national product (GNP--see Glossary), and sixty-third in military spending as a percentage of total government spending. South Africa also ranked forty-ninth in the size of its armed forces and 103d in the size of the armed forces in relation to population.
By the mid-1990s, defense spending had been reduced to less than 3 percent of gross domestic product (GDP--see Glossary), and less than 10 percent of total government spending (see table 8; table 24, Appendix). Military salaries consumed more than half of defense spending, in part the result of the military reorganization. Spending on armaments and equipment had declined, as a portion of defense spending, from 44 percent in the 1980s to 28 percent in 1994, according to newly appointed SANDF chief General George Meiring. Meiring and other defense officials in 1995 expressed concern about military preparedness, noting the reduced production and acquisition of armored vehicles, the decline in antiaircraft capability, the reduction of civil service positions from 144,000 to about 100,000, the closure of military bases, and the reduction in military training courses. Deputy Minister of Defence Ronnie Kasrils said in 1995 that the government's planned cuts in defense spending could also result in the loss of as many as 90,000 jobs in defense-related industries.
The budget for military intelligence in 1994 was R163 million, and of this, R37 million was allocated for clandestine military intelligence gathering, according to a senior military intelligence officer reporting to the Joint Committee on Defence in October 1994. Spending on clandestine military intelligence was about 1 percent of the total military budget, according to the 1994 report.
Data as of May 1996
South Africa Table of Contents