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Load-shedding, unemployment, crime and corruption pose threat to national security — Ntshavheni

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The government has identified load-shedding, unemployment, sabotage of economic infrastructure, and crime and corruption as threats to national security.

Minister in the Presidency responsible for state security Khumbudzo Ntshavheni told parliament on Friday crime and corruption were threatening to reach endemic levels. This ranged from organised crime, petty crime and threats to community safety as characterised by high levels of gender-based violence and femicide, she said.

“The nature of the crimes in the country point to a problem that needs to be addressed holistically and not only through law-enforcement measures. The partnership with communities to rebuild a societal framing that is anti-crime and corruption has become urgent,” said Ntshavheni.

At a law-enforcement level, the government had learnt many lessons from the riots of July 2021 and integrated law enforcement and partnerships with both private sector and communities were paramount. She said the capacity of an integrated law-enforcement service and effective partnerships was demonstrated in how the government had responded to the EFF’s national shutdown in March.

Ntshavheni acknowledged that continued severe load-shedding created an environment for criminal elements to operate in the cover of darkness.

“The combination and effect of these negative factors have the potential to lead to a socially and politically unstable environment by making communities and civil society at large susceptible to mobilisation against government by elements with nefarious agendas.”

Given the centrality of Eskom to South Africa’s electricity generation, transmission, and distribution, a negative impact on its operations posed a grave threat to the economic security of the country, said the minister.

As a result, any threat to the viability and operations of Eskom was accorded the requisite priority. It was against this backdrop that the security structures had identified key threats to the performance of Eskom requiring urgent attention or intervention under the auspices of National Energy Crisis Committee.

While the assurance by Eskom that the country would not face an electricity blackout and other efforts to deal with the energy crisis signified an improvement in the threat picture, the intelligence services had advised that a permanent solution to the electricity crisis was required, she said.

Intelligence services had also noticed trends in economic infrastructure crimes which could be deemed deliberate sabotage, she said. “We continue to both monitor and work with other law enforcement agencies to prevent them.”

Ntshavheni said while South Africa’s greylisting by the Financial Action Task Force was cause for concern, it had assisted the government to intensify its efforts towards strengthening interventions against money laundering and terrorism financing.

Through the co-ordination of the intelligence security structures at the NICOC level, these interventions had significantly improved the threat picture, particularly on matters of illicit economy, terrorism and money laundering, among others, she said.

Furthermore, the State Security Agency together with other law enforcement agencies continued to develop and implement other measures to ensure South Africa’s territory was not used to plan, facilitate or carry out acts of terrorism and acquire, move, store and use funds in support of terrorism, she said.

While there were these threats facing the country, the National Intelligence Co-ordinating Committee through the National Intelligence Estimate had assured the government its responses continued to mitigate the threats and drastically alter the threat landscape in a positive way, she said.

“However, more still needs to be done to assure conditions of safety and security, particularly on the levers that drive economic growth such as energy security, food security and water security against the backdrop of disasters that befell our country since 2020 such as the Covid-19 pandemic, July 2021 unrest, catastrophic floods, the energy crisis and the impact of the Russia-Ukraine conflict.”

Source: TimesLIVE

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