An ethics perspective to South Africa’s civilian intelligence governance regime

Main Article Content

Lincoln Cave
Richard Jurgens


The role of national security entities in public administration, with specific reference to civilian intelligence structures, is a public policy issue of concern and interest across the globe, particularly with regard to questions of governance and public accountability. Governments need intelligence services to serve national and/or political interests, but these must, by nature, operate in conditions of secrecy. The gap between these two elements can be a source of misgovernance and/or abuse of power. We argue that the credibility of South African intelligence structures has been negatively impacted by failures and omissions of accountable governance since the emergence of a democratic dispensation in 1994. In particular, the article focuses on the effects of politicisation on effective governance of the country’s intelligence function. We propose an ethical governance model, framed by a transformative approach and grounded in ethical stewardship, as a way to give effect to constitutionally defined expectations regarding the purpose and management of the country’s intelligence function.

Article Details

How to Cite
Cave, L., & Jurgens, R. (2021). An ethics perspective to South Africa’s civilian intelligence governance regime. The Africa Governance Papers, 1(1). Retrieved from
Research Articles
Author Biographies

Lincoln Cave, Ethics Practitioners’ Association, Institute of Corporate Forensic Practitioners, Ethics Institute of South Africa

Dr Lincoln Cave (DTech in Public Management and a Masters in Security Studies) is a diplomat who writes in his professional capacity as a Certified Ethics Officer. He holds membership to the Ethics Practitioners’ Association (EPA), an Associate membership to the Institute of Corporate Forensic Practitioners (ICFP) and Supporter of the Ethics Institute of South Africa. In addition to other varied certified courses completed, he is presently studying towards a Postgraduate diploma in Compliance Management.

Richard Jurgens, Good Governance Africa, The Africa Governance Papers

Richard Jurgens is a former editor of GGA’s flagship publication, Africa in Fact, and has been appointed editor of GGA’s peer-reviewed academic journal, The Africa Governance Papers. He spent 10 years in exile with the ANC in Tanzania, Zambia and Zimbabwe, as well as the Netherlands. He has worked in mainstream media, alternative media, the corporate world and for NGOs internationally and in South Africa. A published author with a memoir, a novel and several books of poetry to his name, he has a BA (Hons) in philosophy and is currently completing a Research Master’s degree in public policy studies at the University of the Witwatersrand’s School of Governance.


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