By Fred M’membe
From time immemorial, nations, governments and communities have relied on intelligence as an essential guide to statecraft. It is on record, for example, that the Persian Empire, the Moguls of India and the City State of Venice utilised intelligence in a systematic manner as an essential feature of government. They recorded their concepts of intelligence in texts that are available for study today.
It is evident from this history that intelligence techniques have been used in pursuit of different objectives and that statecraft and its instruments are always a reflection of the culture and value system of a given society. Some nations believed in conquest and the creation of empires that exploited the resources of their subjects. Others used intelligence as an instrument in pursuit of wars and military supremacy. Still others sought dominance in trade and wealth creation for themselves and their peoples.
With the emergence of modern democratic states – be they capitalist or socialist – a fundamental change has occurred in the nature of intelligence as an instrument of government. Whereas previously the emphasis was on the security of the state and the survival of the regime, now there is a strong emphasis on human security and human rights and freedoms.
In our country, the Constitution is the supreme law and it enshrines the principles, culture and values of our multiparty democratic state and people. Our constitutional arrangements are not confined to setting out the distribution of power and the means for the peaceful change of ruling parties, presidents and settlement of disputes. The Constitution also reflects the basic values of our multiparty democracy and the economic and social principles for ensuring a cultured existence for all our people and their diverse political parties.
Unlike many other jurisdictions, our Constitution provides expressly for the setting up of intelligence services as part of the security system in the country – Constitution of Zambia (Amendment) [No. 2 of 2016 81 Establishment of Defence Force and functions Establishment of national security services and functions (3) The Zambia Security Intelligence Service shall— (a) ensure national security by undertaking security intelligence and counter intelligence; (b) prevent a person from suspending, overthrowing or illegally abrogating this Constitution; and (c) perform other functions as prescribed.
There are also statutes that describe in detail the role and functions of the intelligence services – An Act to provide for the establishment of the Zambia Security Intelligence Service, its functions and discipline; and to provide for matters incidental thereto or connected therewith [1st October, 1974]; An Act to provide for the continued existence of the Zambia Security Intelligence Service, its functions and discipline; to constitute the National Intelligence Council and define its functions; to repeal and replace the Zambia Security Intelligence Service Act, 1973; and to provide for matters connected with or incidental to the foregoing [24th April, 1998. Whilst operational techniques of covert collection of information are secret, the rest of our intelligence activities should be open and above board. This reflects confidence that our objectives and policies are ethical, honourable and in accordance with fundamental human rights and freedoms.
Our intelligence and other security services are not supposed to be oppressors of the people but protectors of their security and well-being. Hence our services are supposed to count on the full support of the people. But that is not the case today – our security services are feared and even hated.
The intelligence function comprises the gathering, evaluation and dissemination of information relevant to decision-making, and may include prediction based on such information, as well as planning for future contingencies. In short, intelligence involves the acquisition of information and planning in exercise of all the intellectual tasks required of decision-makers. The relation between the intelligence function and community goals is particularly subtle: although intelligence operates within the frame of authorised goals, one duty of effective intelligence is to appraise these goals in the context of knowledge and, where appropriate, to bring new attention areas, for the purposes of goal clarification, to the focus of decision-makers.
Intelligence is a critical function at all levels of decision-making, yet its very ubiquity seems to have obscured it from visibility to public inquiry.
There is no dearth of historical examples demonstrating the critical importance of reliable intelligence. Napoleon put it to use with devastating effect. Both Stalin and Hitler, in our own day, have shown that the utility of the most accurate and timely intelligence depends upon a decision-maker capable and willing to use it. What, then, are the ideal intelligence services we are striving for? We envisage intelligence services that are fully conscious and proud of our multiparty democratic and constitutional foundations. We expect our intelligence operatives, researchers and analysts to be highly trained and sophisticated.
The main function of our services should be the collection of true and relevant information that can serve as a basis for first class decision-making on security.
Our intelligence services must be seen to be collectors of information both inside the country and abroad, using human resources and the latest modern technology. They must rely on brains rather than brawn. They must be effective and efficient and deliver quality products superior to those ordinarily available.
Our intelligence services are not and must never be another police service with powers of arrest. It is true that the modern trend is to use the special methods of intelligence to assist the police in the realm of combating serious international crime syndicates, but essentially the services must aim at providing information for decision-makers rather than prosecution or persecution of criminals.
The intelligence services have been given special powers but these powers must be exercised in accordance with legislation, regulations, guidelines and rules. It is essential that intelligence services behave in an ethical and lawful manner. In Zambia these matters are considered so important that they are governed by the Constitution itself.
Intelligence services have the particular misfortune of going unnoticed and unappreciated when they are successful. We wish to record our thanks to and respect for the Zambian intelligence services and all their members, who make a significant contribution to the security of our country and people.
Multiparty democracy is founded on every citizen’s right to take part in the management of public affairs. This requires the existence of representative institutions at all levels and, as a cornerstone, a parliament in which all components of society are represented and which has the requisite powers and means to express the will of the people by legislating and overseeing government action.
A multiparty democratic state must ensure the enjoyment of civil, cultural, economic, political and social rights by its citizens. Hence, multiparty democracy goes hand in hand with an effective, honest and transparent government that is freely chosen and accountable for its management of public affairs.
Public accountability applies to all those who hold public authority, whether elected or appointed, and to all bodies of public authority. Accountability has the political purpose of checking the power of the executive and therefore minimising any abuse of power. The operational purpose of accountability is to help to ensure that governments operate effectively and efficiently.
For this reason, no institution, function or act of the state, and no organisation or activity of the government can be exempted from public scrutiny and accountability.
There’s need to strengthen mechanisms of control of our civilian intelligence structures in order to ensure full compliance and alignment with the Constitution, constitutional principles and the rule of law, and particularly to minimise the potential for illegal conduct and abuse of power.
There’s need to review the executive control of the intelligence services; control mechanisms relating to intelligence operations; control over intrusive methods of investigation; political and economic intelligence; political non-partisanship of the services; the balance between secrecy and transparency; and controls over the funding of covert operations.
There’s need to bear in mind the fact that an effective state can contribute powerfully to sustainable development and the reduction of poverty. But there is no guarantee that state intervention will benefit society. The state’s monopoly on coercion, which gives it the power to intervene effectively in economic activity, also gives it the power to intervene arbitrarily.
This power, coupled with access to information not available to the general public, creates opportunities for public officials to promote their own interests, or those of friends or allies, at the expense of the general interest. The possibilities for rent seeking and corruption are considerable. We must therefore work to establish and nurture mechanisms that give state agencies the flexibility and the incentive to act for the common good, while at the same time restraining arbitrary and corrupt behaviour in dealings with businesses and citizens.
It’s not the duty of the intelligence services to keep the incumbent President in power and help secure him a third term of office. It’s the duty of the intelligence services to ensure free, fair and peaceful elections and let the best candidates, the most supported and trusted candidates win.
President of the Socialist Part