Two centres of power in intelligence?

16 March 2018
Official opposition leader, McHenry Venaani, was quoted by the State-owned daily New Era decrying the two centers of power in the Namibia Central Intelligence Service (NCIS). 
In the report, the Popular Democratic Movement leader is said to have asked government to explain why NCIS chief, Philemon Malima continues to share the stage with the supposedly former NCIS chief, Lucas Hangula. 
We have the same question and have asked it before.  We warned about this issue in our August 4 and August 11, 2017 editions entitled, Spy chief in firing line and President brings back former spy chief. 
At that time, our sources exposed the situation of two chiefs in residence at the NCIS and when seeking explanations and confirmation, we were stubbornly rebuffed by officialdom.
The then Minister of Information and Communication Technology, Tjekero Tweya, scoffed at us by saying, “…nothing should be linked to this malicious fabricated story, orchestrated by some fantastic minds, masquerading as journalism.” 
Midnight is the traditional time to remove the masks and reveal who is who.
Intelligence gathering is sensitive and by definition must be done subtly, often without full disclosure and as silently as possible.  There are national security issues that are paramount from time to time and the intelligence gathering agency is usually at the crux of things.  As intelligent citizens of this modern world, we are not unmindful of this.
At the same time, when governments use power and resources which are derived from the people, there must always be some accountability, which applies to the intelligence services as well.  Without this, secret un-elected officials can violate the Constitution being their own judge, jury and executioner and our democracy will crumble. 
Just this week, the UK and Russia were at loggerheads over the assassination using a chemical weapon of the Russian intelligence (as accused by the British) services, of a former agent now living in Britain.
It is intelligence service actions that are centre stage, when they are more used to creeping in the shadows.  What intelligence agencies know and do definitely affects national and even world policy.  The UK/Russia clash is no joke.
A house divided against itself cannot stand.  The quality of all Namibian intelligence that should assist the Executive and all government arms as they take critical, life-changing decisions, is now suspect.  There is confusion in our intelligence gathering caused by having an old and new leader sitting under the same roof. 
We thought this president won the day at the congress last year precisely by convincing voting members that two centres of power is a bad thing.  Well, here we are.  There are two centres of power within one major government agency and that is untenable.  An explanation of this matter should be in order sooner, rather than later.
As soon as Malima was appointed, Hangula’s days at the helm of intelligence should have immediately ended.  Why is this not the case?  We just had a Cabinet reshuffle.  Can you imagine a minister moved from one portfolio to another, refusing to move?
There is simply no such thing as ‘refusing’ to go on retirement or ‘refusing’ to vacate an office when you serve at the behest of the appointing authority.  Unless, the appointing authority is allowing the former NCIS leader to remain in place, the question then must be, why?
Venaani goes further than our sources back in August, to reveal that both ‘director-generals’ are receiving the same salaries, while one runs the NCIS and the other collects money for occupying space.
The ball is and has always been in president Geingob’s court.  The longer the impasse continues, the more it looks like this is a stew pot of State House’s making for reasons known only to them.
Now that the cat-is-out-of-the-bag and our necessarily secretive intelligence services are in the headlines yet again, a decisive executive action is in order.  Otherwise, what faith should we have as citizens that our national security services are being run professionally and properly?
If there are two centres of power at work in NCIS, imagine the staff being unclear whose directives to follow, who makes final decisions, who authorizes budget outlay, who hires, who fires, who has access to the most sensitive of intelligence sources, and who sorts the information and presents it to the president and other national security officials. 
It is a dangerous world out there and Namibia needs to be protected at all levels. 
With terrorism sniping at every country’s soft underbelly, drugs, people smuggling, poaching, diamond smuggling, currency and document counterfeiters, illegal use of Namibian passports by criminals and intelligence activities of other countries (friend or foe) that affect Namibia in full force, now is not the time to have a crippled intelligence service protecting this country and keeping the people safe.
Geingob must step up to the plate and make a solution immediately.  Is it Malima or Hangula? 


The Windhoek Observer is an English-language weekly newspaper, published in Namibia by Paragon Investment Holding. It is the country's oldest and largest circulating weekly.

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