Issued by the FW de Klerk Foundation on 13/02/2024


On 7 February 2024, the FW de Klerk Foundation voiced its concerns regarding the General Intelligence Laws Amendment Bill (“the GILAB”) during Parliament’s public hearings. The GILAB is currently open for public comment until 16h00 on Thursday, 15 February 2024.

The GILAB will make it compulsory for the South African intelligence services to conduct a vetting investigation to determine the security competence of persons or institutions suspected of being threats or potential threats to national security. 

Underscoring the Foundation’s primary concerns, Daniela Ellerbeck, Manager of Constitutional Programmes at the FW de Klerk Foundation, stated that the “Bill’s vague definitions, particularly concerning ‘threat’, ‘security competency test’ and ‘national security’, raise serious constitutional and practical concerns, because literally every citizen in the Republic can be deemed to be vulnerable to e.g. ‘manipulation’. However, that does not mean that they are a threat to national security and that the State should be able to administer a security competency test on them.” 

Additionally, the Foundation highlights the inherent risk of abuse posed by the GILAB – given its empowerment of security agencies to conduct security competency tests and vetting investigations without clear parameters or safeguards.

Ellerbeck stated, “Due to the Bill’s problematic wide definitions, these clauses could allow for civil society organisations and those working for them, to be seen by the South African Intelligence Agency as persons or institutions of national security interest and to be subjected to a vetting investigation”.

These provisions “risk infringing on fundamental rights and freedoms enshrined in our Constitution, eroding public trust in government institutions,” says Ellerbeck. Moreover, the GILAB creates a potential avenue for stifling legitimate dissent and criticism of the government, resulting in a climate of fear and self-censorship. 

The implications of the GILAB extend beyond security concerns; they encroach upon the very fabric of our democracy,” Ellerbeck added. “The FW de Klerk Foundation urges Parliament to address these concerns and ensure that any amendments to intelligence laws uphold constitutional principles and rights.” 

The Foundation will be making a comprehensive legal submission to Parliament’s relevant committee before the deadline.