domingo, 27 de março de 2016

Ex-spy bosses to spill beans on Guptas

© (Oupa Nkosi, M&G) Ex-spy bosses to spill beans on Guptas

Senior spooks, sacked for planning a probe into the family, considered asking for President Jacob Zuma to be axed.

ANC heavyweights – including three former spy bosses fired in 2011 after they planned a probe into the Gupta family’s influence on the state – briefly toyed with the idea of calling for President Jacob Zuma to be recalled.

Ultimately they took a softer line. But the spies will probably still be part of the investigation that they had tried to initiate as a matter of national security six years ago.

The probe is to be conducted within the party under secretary general Gwede Mantashe.
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In 2011, the then state security minister, Siyabonga Cwele, fired domestic spy boss Gibson Njenje, his foreign intelligence counterpart Moe Shaik and Jeff Maqetuka, director general of the State Security Agency. Cwele said at the time that the investigation the group had planned in 2010 was “irregular” and would have amounted to fighting personal battles.

In 2013 Njenje told the Mail & Guardian that, as a senior official and ANC member, he had expected the party to protect him, Shaik and Maqetuka when they sought to investigate the Gupta family. Instead, they were shown the door.

The three were among 25 senior commanders and commissars from the ANC’s former military wing, Umkhonto weSizwe, who signed a memorandum delivered at the ANC’s national executive committee (NEC) meeting in Pretoria over the weekend.

The memorandum called for a special ANC conference to deal with the possible recall of Zuma, and for “an independent commission of inquiry, composed of eminent persons within the ANC and civil society, to investigate all claims of undue influence, especially by the Gupta family on the ANC and on the state”.

An early draft of the memorandum had called for Zuma to be recalled, but that approach was abandoned well before the final draft was agreed on. The memorandum was the initiative of retired general Siphiwe Nyanda, a former communications minister and defence force chief.

Nyanda was hijacked on Tuesday night, said former ANC spokesperson Keith Khoza. His car was apparently recovered near the site of the incident, which was still being investigated at the time of publication.

Speaking to the M&G the day before the hijacking, Nyanda said an earlier draft of the memo called for Zuma’s recall, but that was changed to ask for a special conference.

“To tell you the truth, we didn’t expect that there would be a recall of the president, nor did we make such a recommendation or a request or demand,” he said.

Another signatory said the group believed they should rather call for a special conference on Zuma’s position because it was up to the ANC’s NEC to take the lead on this.

Nyanda said the issue of state capture was too urgent to leave until the ANC’s next conference, scheduled for the end of next year.

He welcomed the party’s planned probe into the allegations of outside interference in appointing ministers and in government business.

“There are many people that we think should come forward and give evidence,” he said.

Nyanda said when he was still in the NEC, before the 2012 Mangaung conference, Sport Minister Fikile Mbalula related at a meeting that the Guptas had told him he would be appointed to his current position.

Nyanda said Mbalula made this statement after Zuma opened the meeting with a political overview. “At the end of every meeting, the president summarises the discussions of the NEC.

“The fact that the president of the ANC did not even allude to the statement by Mbalula was very telling to some of us,” Nyanda said. “We expected him to say: ‘Not in my name,’ but he kept quiet.”

Shaik said he was one of those who had requested the investigation into the Gupta family’s links with the government. “If I look at myself in the mirror and ask if I did the right thing as a government official to say the investigation is necessary, yes I did. If I’m doing the right thing now to bring it under the attention of the ANC leadership, yes I am.”

Mantashe said “intelligence has never had a meeting with me”. Asked whether he had met Njenje after the intelligence chief was fired, Mantashe said: “I never talked to him about it.”

An irritated Mantashe did not want to confirm whether he would meet Njenje now. “Can you give the organisation space to deal with itself? Allow the organisation to deal with its issues,” he said.

Former ANC Youth League deputy president Ronald Lamola has vowed to continue with “mass action” against Zuma after organising a picket at the entrance to the NEC meeting on Saturday. Nyanda said his group had not communicated with Lamola.

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