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Saturday 19 January 2019
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NCIS overhaul needed ASAP

The arraignment of a senior NCIS agent in court for alleged fraud this week is a clear indication that our intelligence service should undergo a major overhaul, if our national security is to be secured.
The organisation needs to undergo a seismic shift to ensure that it is modernized to counter external and internal threats.
The notoriously siloed organisation has over the years been a law unto itself.
Of course we do not expect the agency’s affairs to be out there in public, it is our view that its affairs should be kept private, however there needs to be a balance between privacy and transparency.
To outsiders, the appearance of an NCIS agent in court might sound like a small thing.
But inside the NCIS, with its fiercely guarded fiefdoms, this court case poses major reputational damage.
It is unacceptable that the entity charged to protect the country and sniff-out all those who threaten peace in the country is the same entity that is committing such heinous crimes.
NCIS needs to be leaner and modernised to deal with modern threats, this would mainly relate to cyber operations.
Cyberwars are the biggest threat to any country’s national security in today’s world.
It is high time that Namibia has an open and frank conversation that details how the NCIS has lagged behind.
Billions of dollars have been shipped out of this country. Why was this not picked up? One would think national security is a broad-based concept that entails securing the country’s peace, security, finances etc.
NCIS should remember that its ability to carry out its mandate for human intelligence and national security should be more intelligent in today’s digital world.
The fact that the NCIS earlier this year argued in court that it is not corruptible speaks volume of the agency. That is the song of an entity that has operated as a law unto itself.
Over the years there has been this fear created when it comes to the NCIS that it should not be touched or even spoken of, that’s not how one builds a nation.
You do not build a nation by instilling fear in citizens, more so, in a democracy no institution should be beyond reproach.
It is because of that fear that the institution’s public image has taken a dent.
In a democracy, entities must instil respect in the citizenry, not fear.
Despite the special nature and powers of the NCIS, they must be subject to oversight in order to ensure they are accountable, comply with the established policies, norms and regulations, respect human rights and international standards, and use public funds in an accountable fashion.
We know that the challenge for NCIS is in balancing their work while maintaining public and bipartisan political support. This is difficult because they are not at liberty to engage with the public.
That means accountability mechanisms must be devised to ensure that politicians and the public will have  sufficient confidence that the NCIS is not acting in a vacuum.
This court case where a senior staffer of NCIS have 79 counts of fraud, theft, money laundering and corruption against him should be used by opportunists to call for the NCIS to be stripped naked, it should instead be a reckoning point for those heading the agency to sit down and fine tune the organisation.
Intelligence services are a central figure in any country’s efforts to protect its sovereignty, hence Namibia must use this opportunity to ensure that NCIS’ mandate is still relevant to the world of today, where it is found wanting our leaders should be bold enough and take corrective measure.
After all, whose security is national security if not the people of a country.




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