The Security Branch is a branch of the government of the Republic of South Africa which is responsible for the internal and external security and intelligence related affairs of the country. It was formed in 2002 as an amalgamation of the country's civilian security services and acts essentially as an overarching regulatory and policy agency. Unlike other government departments, which are led by ministers, the Security Branch is led by the Secretary of Security (currently S.C. Vermeulen), who answers directly to the State President. The State President himself is heavily involved with the Security Branch and has regularly taken personal charge of the branch.
Security Branch Act, 2001
The Security Branch is led by the Secretary of Security who presides over the State Security Council (SSC). The Secretary on advise and consent of the State President appoints several Deputy Ministers, who also make out part of the SSC's upper echelons, who oversee and administrative specific functionary areas. The various Deputy Ministers are currently:
- Deputy Minister for Law and Order
- The Deputy Minister of Security for Law and Order is an important political appointee in the Security Branch. He is responsible for overseeing the administration of justice and the combating of ordinary crime. The subsidiaries responsible to him are chiefly the South African Police Force and the five Offices of the Attorneys General (who prosecute offenders).
- Deputy Minister for Prisons and Correctional Policy
- The Deputy Minister of Security for Prisons and Correctional Policy is responsible for the implementation and management of correctional and prison services throughout the country. He is responsible for the oversight and administration of the Correctional Services Bureau.
- Deputy Minister for State Intelligence
- The Deputy Minister of Security for State Intelligence is, second to the Secretary of Security, South Africa's intelligence chief. He is ex officio the Director of the National Intelligence Bureau and usually reports directly to the State President.
Secretary of Security
The Secretary of Security (Afrikaans: Sekretaries van Sekuriteit) is the executive official charged with the administration and management of the Security Branch. He is appointed at the leisure of the State President in consultation with the Parliamentary Committee on National Security, of which the State President does not require consent or approval. The current Secretary of Security is S.C. Vermeulen.
The Secretary of Security is widely considered to be the second most powerful person in South Africa, even yet more powerful than the Vice State President. The Secretary is also considered much higher in the order of seniority than any of the other ministers within the executive government, with the Security Branch having almost unlimited authority over any other cabinet departments, with the exception of the Minister and Department of Defense. The Secretary is directly responsible for the Civil Cooperation Bureau, and acts ex officio as its director.
State Security Council
The State Security Council (SSC) (Afrikaans: Staatssekuriteitsraad, SSR) was initially established under State President P.W. Botha in the 1980s but has since been reformed under the presidencies of S.T. Dussen and J.D. Grobler. The SSC's core function is to advise the government on formulating and executing national security policy. Under Botha, the State President himself chaired the Council, however that role has been delegated to the Secretary of Security.
The Council has a full time staff of around 200 officials from within mainly the Security Branch and the Defense Force, and supporting staff from other departments. The SSC consists of four divisions:
- Division for Strategy and Planning
- Strategic Communications Division
- National Intelligence Interpretation Division, and
- Administration Division
- South African Police Force (SAPF)
- Civil Cooperation Bureau (CCB)
- Correctional Services Bureau (CSB)
- National Intelligence Bureau (NIB)