Reforming Intelligence: Obstacles to Democratic Control and Effectiveness

By Thomas C. Bruneau; Steven C. Boraz | Go to book overview

TEN
TRANSFORMING INTELLIGENCE
IN SOUTH AFRICA
Kenneth R. DombroskiBy most objective standards, intelligence sector reform in South Africa seems to be a model for success. Not only have the intelligence services been transformed from militarized and highly repressive instruments of internal control into what appear to be more transparent and democratically accountable civilian-led agencies designed to inform policy, but they have done so in a systematic manner that conforms to policy prescriptions and theories of experts in the field of democratic transformation. From a theoretical standpoint, South Africa’s transformation process is a political scientist’s dream come true: models were adapted to policy prescriptions, which in turn were codified into law and operationalized into new structures and procedures. One can study where the South African intelligence sector stood during the apartheid era, how the transformation process was designed and implemented, and what were the tangible results of these reforms on the intelligence sector. What remains to be seen is if the transformation process has realized the high standards set by the reformers, and how these reforms have impacted the effectiveness of the South African intelligence services. After more than a decade into the transformation process, the long-term effects of these reforms remain uncertain, but several trends have become evident. This chapter assesses the intelligence sector transformation in South Africa and offers lessons learned that might be instructive to other democratizing states. The questions to be considered include the following:
Why did F. W. de Klerk’s administration make it a priority for intelligence to be more accountable to the executive branch of government?
Why did the Government of National Unity under Nelson Mandela embrace intelligence reforms as one of their first priorities?

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