Cultures of secrecy: liberation movements, truth telling and accounting for the past
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The Hefer Commission of Inquiry into whether South African director of public prosecutions Bulelani Ngcuka was an apartheid spy has generated considerable interest in the role of intelligence services during and after wars of national liberation. Long-established political practices and deep-seated cultures of loyalty, as well as institutional compromises, come into conflict with the society's desire for transparency and acknowledgement. In this paper I examine the debate around whether the identities of agents of the former regime should be exposed in the interests of public accountability and disclosure. The paper also evaluates the way in which some of these issues were dealt with by the South African Truth and Reconciliation Commission, and argues that some of the 'unfinished business' of the process is now surfacing in unresolved tensions around truth-telling and betrayal.