South Africa


The slow yet inexorable unravelling of Jacob Zuma’s shadow state

The slow yet inexorable unravelling of Jacob Zuma’s shadow state

News that Director-General of the State Security Agency, Arthur Fraser, has attempted to thwart an investigation by the Office of the Inspector General of Intelligence should come as surprise to no-one. Behind the scenes, a great unravelling is taking place. Zuma’s pawns in Crime Intelligence, SAPS, SARS, the NPA and the SSA are smarting from the disinfecting light of transparency and accountability. It’s not going to be pretty as powerful figures in the ruling party risk being criminally exposed. By MARIANNE THAMM.

In 2009, former head of the National Intelligence Agency (NIA, later to become the State Security Agency or SSA), Niel Barnard, was interviewed by Sue MacGregor for a BBC Radio 4 programme recalling Nelson Mandela’s release and the events leading up to it.

Barnard, replying to a question by MacGregor about whether the NIA had been “ahead” of the apartheid government with regard to negotiations with the then banned ANC and Mandela, disclosed that indeed it had.

“If you are asking a political question then yes, we were. Intelligence services, as you know, should always be ahead of government,” said Barnard, eliciting a chuckle from fellow studio guest Aziz Pahad.

Barnard’s reply highlighted the extraordinary power of intelligence services to drive government agendas, and not the other way around, as well as how intelligence can be abused as a political tool (usually a blunt instrument) because of the supposed cloak of secrecy demanded by the law.

It is a shadow world, wide open to serious abuse and anti-democratic behaviour and it is one in which former President Jacob Zuma looms large.

Arthur Fraser hid behind these secrecy laws to set up a parallel and unaccountable intelligence structure, the Principle Agent Network (PAN), which has allegedly splurged up to R1.5-billion in public funds in three years on various covert projects.

Author Jacques Pauw, in his book The President’s Keepers – Those keeping Zuma in Power and Out of Prison, sets out how PAN was the brainchild of Manala Manzini, who was then head of Domestic Intelligence, and Fraser, who was then his deputy.

On Wednesday, in an unprecedented move, recently-appointed Inspector-General of Intelligence, Dr Setlhomamaru Dintwe, approached the high court to seek protection from Fraser, who has allegedly unilaterally withdrawn Dintwe’s security clearance. Fraser has also attempted to thwart the IGI’s investigation into PAN.

Former Inspector-General of Intelligence, Faith Radebe, and the Office of the Inspector-General of Intelligence (OIGI) have long been aware of Fraser as well as the criminal activities of (PAN) and the State Security Agency’s Covert Support Unit (CSU).

PAN was the subject of two probes, one by the OIGI in 2013, and an extended probe, requested by then Minster of State Security, Siyabonga Cwele, in 2014. The SSA too has investigated Fraser and PAN, and Parliament’s Joint Standing Committee on Intelligence (JSCI), which meets in-camera, has been aware of PAN’s activities since 2014.

Daily Maverick’s questions to the committee with regard to PAN were left unanswered.

It is an open secret that Jacob Zuma’s destructive term of office was supported and sustained by a network of powerful spooks, spies and other useful idiots who owed their continued existence and success to the former president’s long and astonishingly corrupt reign.

These individuals all served to prop up a voracious system of patronage that seeped into every corner of government. So much so that the line between the ruling party and the state, in some instances, was completely erased at great cost to the South African taxpayer.

This is evidenced in the shocking revelation to SCOPA by the Independent Police Investigative Directorate (IPID) that convicted criminal, Captain Morris “KGB” Tshabalala, a Crime Intelligence agent, had been deployed to the ANC’s 2012 53rd National Conference in Mangaung in the Free State with more than R50-million in cash to bribe delegates to vote for Zuma’s slate.

Scopa members were shocked at the revelation in February 2018 and have demanded that political accountability be taken for this breach of the separation of the party and the state.

Essentially, R53-million of taxpayers’ money was stolen to buy votes for an ANC slate. Little wonder the ruling party has come to be viewed as a massive criminal syndicate. Those in the party and the state who seek to reverse this will most certainly find resistance.

IPID also revealed that in December 2017, prior to the ANC’s highly contested elective conference at Nasrec which ultimately saw Zuma’s grip on power compromised, the directorate had been tipped off about another procurement worth R45-million with Brainwave Projects, trading as I-View Integrated Systems, and owned by Durban-based businessman Inbanathan Kistiah.

“It was alleged that such amount of money directed to I-View Integrated System was in fact to be laundered for buying of votes at the ANC conference,” Sesoko told Scopa.

IPID had engaged a number of SAPS senior officials who had confirmed that the transaction was being “pushed through at all cost”, a situation that had resulted in a “strained relationship amongst senior members”.

Newly-appointed SAPS National Commissioner, General Khehla Sithole, had been contacted by IPID which had recommended that payment be stopped immediately.

Later IPID had obtained CCTV footage of senior SAPS officers, including General Sithole, former Minster of Police Fikile Mbalula’s adviser Bongani Mbindwane and other senior SAPS officials meeting with Kistiah, who himself was implicated, in December 2017, in the irregular procurement of two orders for bulletproof vests, one worth R6.7-million and another worth R33-million. Further amounts of between R7-million and R10-million, said Sesoko, was to be used to pay for a “grabber” surveillance system.

I-View is also suspected of selling software worth R33-million aimed at monitoring social media sites during the #FeesMustFall protests.

IPID found that in November 2017 Crime Intelligence officials had destroyed evidence relating to a 2016 contract with Kistiah and which had later led to a raid of I-View and Crime Intelligence offices.

In March 2018, probably as a consequence of the raid, Kistiah wrote to acting Divisional Commissioner, Crime Intelligence, Major-General King Ngcobo, threatening to switch off a system known as the Daedulus Mobile Encryption Service, implemented in 2016.

The system allows around 200 Crime Intelligence Officers to communicate via the app “without being intercepted”. Kistiah demanded around R5-million in payment for the system.

IPID had, in February 2018, told Scopa that the Daedalus system, which had cost R21-million, had also been aimed at blocking cellphone communication between suspended Acting Commissioner Phahlane and a team from North West he had employed to thwart the IPID investigation into his [Phahlane’s] charges of fraud and corruption.

Sesoko told Scopa that SAPS had attempting to derail IPID investigations claiming that Criminal Intelligence information is “classified”. This also related to files involving former suspended head of Criminal Intelligence and Zuma ally, Richard Mdluli.

Daily Maverick sent several emails to Kistiah and General Sithole’s office offering a right of reply with regard to the serious claims IPID has made to Scopa relating to the millions spent in procuring several services and products from Kistiah’s company. We had received no replies at the time of writing.

It is hugely important to remember that former Cape Town Crime Intelligence Head Peter Jacobs has just been appointed Divisional Commissioner of Crime Intelligence. Jacobs is the first permanent appointment since the disgraced Mdluli headed the division.

His pedigree is impressive and he is the first head of CI who has not been drawn from the ranks of officers who served in the apartheid police force, as did Mdluli. Jacobs was an umkhonto weSizwe commander in the Western Cape and was tortured and imprisoned for his activism in the 1980s.

Meanwhile, a week after the announcement by Minister of Police Bheki Cele of Jacobs’ appointment, a Western Cape CI member lodged a complaint of “defeating the ends of justice” against Jacobs.

Maygene de Wee of Network24 reported that the investigation into Jacobs is being led by a Gauteng-based “senior official”. De Wee reported that Western Cape head of CI, Major-General Mzwandile Tiyo (who has been implicated in a massive Cape Town protection racket), had also lodged complaints against Jacobs. SAPS spokesperson Brigadier Vishnu Naidoo confirmed to De Wee that Jacobs was being investigated.

Jacobs had previously been illegally removed as head of Criminal Intelligence in the Western Cape by former acting National Commissioner Khomotso Phahlane who is himself facing charges of corruption, fraud and racketeering. Phahlane replaced Jacobs with Tiyo who does not have a matric or high-level security clearance.

Presenting to Scopa in January, IPID head Robert McBride, who has also been relentlessly targeted by the Hawks, said that SAPS officials were misleading Parliament and that there was no desire to co-operate with IPID investigations. The modus operandi, he said, was for officials to claim documents were “classified”.

The network of Zuma’s keepers is slowly being unravelled, including at SARS where one of his most loyal pawns, Tom Moyane, stood his ground until his suspension in March.

The reclamation of the democratic state is in progress but with the country’s ethical and moral compass compromised, all we have left is the courts and it is here that the moral arc has bent towards justice.

Soon the disinfectant of transparency and accountability will flush out those who seek to do their dirty work in the shadows. It is a New Dawn in South Africa. DM

Photo: President Jacob Zuma and his State Security minister David Mahlobo at the ANC policy conference, 5 July 2017, Nasrec. (Ihsaan Haffajee).


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