An evaluation of the concept of national security as determined by the South African Constitution and its interpretation by the State Security Agency
Van Heerden, Johannes Goosen
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National Security as a phenomenon is not well defined in the South African context, with the result that it is interpreted and applied differently by academia and civilian intelligence organisation alike. The concept evolved historically and became a point of contention among various theoretical schools of thought within the theoretical field of security studies (as a subfield of international relations) as well as within the real politik interpretation and application amongst practitioners within the civilian intelligence community. The concept of national security was dissected etymologically to indicate the link between the national part of the concept and the link to the concept of state. It was indicated that concepts such as state and sovereignty developed in their current form from the Treaties of Westphalia. It was argued that Westphalian state had to defend itself and as such a rudimentary national security concept was formed, with the state as the referent object. This concept of national security evolved and came to dominate the academic debate during the Cold War. The Realist approach with its state-centric approach to national security came under pressure with the end of the Cold War by the subsequent ring of various other security approaches. An academic debate between the various approaches and their varied views on what national security entails, ensured that the concept of national security would remain a contested concept for the foreseeable future. In the South African context a historically realist approach was followed by the South African government during the Apartheid years and a more human security approach was developed by the Liberation organisations. This was evident with the end of Apartheid and how the human security concept permeated documents such as the White Paper on Intelligence and most importantly the South Africa Constitution. A micronarrative analysis indicated that both human and state centric security are prevalent in the Constitution. Analysis has indicated that an intelligence organisation like the State Security Agency (SSA) had difficulties in interpreting and operationalising these two types of security approaches. This has led to intelligence embarrassments and uncertainty with regards to mandate. This was exacerbated by political infighting, policy uncertainty and corruption under the Zuma administration. An evaluation of the SSA’s interpretation was done by considering the main intelligence legislation and how national security was defined within these pieces of legislation and lastly how this correlated with what was determined by the SA Constitution. It was evaluated that the SSA’s understanding and interpretation of national security as determined by the SA Constitution was incorrect. There discrepancies between the Constitution and the SSA had a serious impact on the operations of the SSA. This has led this research to make recommendations to the SSA how these discrepancies can be mitigated.
- Humanities 
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