The Minister of Intelligence Ayanda Dlodlo has told Daily Maverick that she will not deal with the allegations of an intelligence-led conspiracy made by former president Jacob Zuma at the Zondo Commission of inquiry on Monday.
“The Minister says the Commission must be allowed to do and finalise its work without undue interference,” said Dlodlo’s spokesperson Mava Scott. He added: “The Minister will act, if required, at an appropriate time when the business of the Commission has been concluded.”
Zuma’s strategy of deflection by opening his testimony with bombshell allegations of a three-decade-long grand conspiracy against him and that the ANC was and is infiltrated by Western and apartheid spies failed. The evidence leader Paul Pretorius quickly moved testimony on to questioning the former head of state on the testimony of the nine witnesses who have appeared before the Commission and made serious allegations of State Capture implicating Zuma.
Zuma’s spy allegations divide ANC
But Zuma’s statement has done its damage. It has divided the ANC. On the one hand, a group led by the party’s secretary-general Ace Magashule is pushing for Zuma’s statement to move back to the centre of the political narrative.
On Tuesday Magashule said the ANC should investigate the allegations that Zuma has made. Later in the day, the MK Military Veterans Association stated that: “There is absolutely no way that the ANC can allow itself to be led by spies, or former spies. In fact, we ascribe to the maxim: Once a spy always a spy. MKMVA insists that the ANC must establish a formal and credible Commission of Inquiry to thoroughly investigate those who have been fingered for spying in president Zuma’s evidence. In addition, such a Commission of Inquiry should also conduct an overall investigation into the extremely serious matter of spying in general in the ANC, and the infiltration of the ANC by counter-revolutionary forces.”
The campaign is now being aired across social media to, arguably, deflect from the testimony on State Capture and it is opening up a new front to pressurise President Cyril Ramaphosa to institute an inquiry into Zuma’s allegations. The head of state is already under extreme pressure from Public Protector Busisiwe Mkhwebane in relation both to her a forthcoming report on Ramaphosa and by drawing him into her war with Minister of Public Enterprises Pravin Gordhan.
The growing call for an investigation of Zuma’s spy claims can be read as an attempt to create equivalence between the State Capture inquiry and a second inquiry into the allegations of spying in the ANC which Zuma has resurrected.
The veteran leaders of the ANC whom Zuma has fingered like former cabinet member Ngoako Ramatlhodi and former Defence Force chief Siphiwe Nyanda have responded angrily and challenged the former head of state’s account thus opening up old and bloody wounds in the ANC related to infiltration.
This can serve the function of distracting from the reform agenda of a new ANC administration and risk its platform of unity and stability for growth.
On Wednesday, former SACP deputy general-secretary and ANC NEC member Jeremy Cronin entered the fray in a column on News24.
He warned about diversionary tactics. “But let’s focus on the actual misdeeds of State Capture itself, as I believe the Zondo commission is seeking to do. Let’s better understand how and why it was allowed to fester. And let’s not get sucked into diversionary narratives and counter-narratives based on a conspiratorial nostalgia for a different time.”
Cronin also said Zuma’s central contention that he was first targeted by shadowy intelligence agents who had a hand in removing him as the party’s head of intelligence in 1991.
“At least from the late-1980s there was a general perception within the ANC leadership that Zuma was an unsuitable person to be entrusted with security and intelligence-related activity.” DM