Placing SSA in presidency not ’emergence of a dictatorship’: Cyril Ramaphosa

President says the move is meant to professionalise state security in the country

President Cyril Ramaphosa at the state capture inquiry this week.
Picture: Elmond Jiyane/GCIS

President Cyril Ramaphosa has responded to critics who believe that his decision to disband the department of state security and place the State Security Agency (SSA) in the presidency is a move to build a dictatorship or totalitarian state.

Ramaphosa said it was also far-fetched to suggest that he made the move during his recent cabinet reconfiguration to centralise his power and to be able to deal with his political enemies.

Instead, moving the SSA to the presidency was meant to professionalise it and divorce it from serving factions of the governing party instead of those of the country.

Ramaphosa said this at the state capture inquiry on Thursday as his questioning continued.

“In the past it [SSA] tended to serve certain factional interests, be it in the governing party or otherwise,” said Ramaphosa.

“It is an agency that has been docked in a lot of controversy and trouble and we need to realign its work properly with our objectives of a developmental state.”

Ramaphosa said those who viewed his move to have the country’s spooks reporting directly to his office were entitled to their opinions, but they were wrong.

“Many people have misunderstood it, they have even gone to the extent of saying the president is creating a super presidency, and other have gone on to say this is now the emergence of a dictatorship,” he said.

“Others are saying we are now becoming a totalitarian state — far from it.

“Some have even said that the president is amassing all in his hand and is going to use state security against his enemies. I am not wired in that way, I am not geared in that way.”

Ramaphosa said he was not in the business of spooks who pledge allegiance to the president but was interested in building state security with operatives who are loyal to the country and its people.

By Mawande AmaShabalala – TimesLIVE