Spooks’ cash ‘used to spy on CR’

Sources say sev­eral ANC pres­i­den­tial hope­fuls are be­ing spied on by the state us­ing stolen money

Mail & Guardian - - News - Ma­tuma Let­soalo

The State Se­cu­rity Agency’s (SSA’s) covert sup­port unit — set up to fight ter­ror­ism and or­gan­ised crime — is al­legedly be­ing used to tar­get Pres­i­dent Ja­cob Zuma’s po­lit­i­cal op­po­nents in the ANC ahead of the party’s elec­tive con­fer­ence in De­cem­ber, in­tel­li­gence sources told the Mail & Guardian this week.

This emerged in the wake of dam­ag­ing leaked emails, which im­pli­cated Deputy Pres­i­dent Cyril Ramaphosa in ex­tra­mar­i­tal af­fairs.

Gov­ern­ment and ANC sources with knowl­edge of the go­ings-on in in­tel­li­gence cir­cles this week claimed the covert unit, headed by Thu­lani Dhlomo, was con­duct­ing il­le­gal sur­veil­lance and in­ter­cept­ing phone calls and emails of ANC politi­cians, in­clud­ing Ramaphosa.

Other ANC politi­cians al­legedly tar­geted by the covert unit in­clude ANC pres­i­den­tial hope­fuls Hu­man Set­tle­ment Min­is­ter Lindiwe Sisulu, ANC trea­surer gen­eral Zweli Mkhize, Min­is­ter in the Pres­i­dency Jeff Radebe and Higher Ed­u­ca­tion Min­is­ter Blade Nz­i­mande.

The SSA has de­nied the ex­is­tence of the covert unit.

The in­tel­li­gence sources, who asked not to be named for fear of vic­tim­i­sa­tion, claimed the covert unit was no longer gath­er­ing in­tel­li­gence in the in­ter­ests of the na­tion, but rather to fight po­lit­i­cal bat­tles in the ANC. They claimed the unit was re­port­ing to State Se­cu­rity Min­is­ter David Mahlobo and to the pres­i­dent.

They claimed the for­eign cur­rency worth R17-mil­lion that was stolen from the spy agency’s head­quar­ters in De­cem­ber 2015 was used to fund the il­le­gal in­tel­li­gence ac­tiv­i­ties con­ducted by the covert unit.

“This is why we haven’t seen any progress with re­gard to the in­ves­ti­ga­tion on the mat­ter. The money that got lost there was never re­cov­ered be­cause it’s used for il­le­gal sur­veil­lance,” said one in­tel­li­gence source.

Ramaphosa has so far not de­nied the ex­is­tence or the ve­rac­ity of the emails first pub­lished by the Sun­day In­de­pen­dent, but has con­demned the use of state re­sources to tar­get po­lit­i­cal op­po­nents. He said the emails were il­le­gally ob­tained from his pri­vate email ac­count.

ANC in­sid­ers told the M&G this week that the deputy pres­i­dent was aware of the il­le­gal sur­veil­lance against him and has re­lated his frus­tra­tion to some of the se­nior ANC lead­ers close to him.

An ANC na­tional ex­ec­u­tive com­mit­tee (NEC) mem­ber, who spoke to Ramaphosa about the mat­ter, said the deputy pres­i­dent found it dif­fi­cult to trust his ANC and gov­ern­ment col­leagues.

“He no longer trusts any­one — not even his body­guards, be­cause he be­lieves they were spy­ing on him. He can’t take sen­si­tive phone calls any­more while in the company of his body­guards,” said the NEC mem­ber sym­pa­thetic to Ramaphosa.

Another ANC mem­ber, who is in Ramaphosa’s team, said the deputy pres­i­dent has be­come so care­ful that he no longer eats food at public events for fear of be­ing poi­soned. The ANC mem­ber said the deputy pres­i­dent told those close to him that he was in­formed by of­fi­cials in the in­tel­li­gence ser­vices about plans to put bug­ging de­vices at his houses and of­fices in dif­fer­ent prov­inces.

Ramaphosa’s spokesman, Ty­rone Seale, on Thurs­day did not re­spond to spe­cific ques­tions emailed to him by the M&G, say­ing the se­cu­rity of the deputy pres­i­dent was the re­spon­si­bil­ity of the po­lice.

Ad­dress­ing the ANC Women’s League rally in Jo­han­nes­burg on Sun­day, Ramaphosa de­scribed the the leaked emails as a “tar­geted at­tack” aimed at tar­nish­ing his name ahead of the ANC elec­tive con­fer­ence in De­cem­ber.

“We should not al­low face­less provo­ca­teurs to de­ter­mine who should lead our move­ment. We are go­ing to re­new this ANC. It is not the front pages of news­pa­pers that will choose the lead­er­ship of the ANC. It is these branches. You as the branches, it is now in your hands. It is your ANC. It does not be­long to provo­ca­teurs.

“Claims have been made against me. This hap­pened through state or­gans. I think we are go­ing to see more of this. I am able to say that this is not go­ing to de­ter me. Where I have made mis­takes, I will take full re­spon­si­bil­ity … I will not be de­terred,” he said.

“We should never, as the ANC, de­scend to the level where we utilise state re­sources to tar­get each other. This is a weak­ness we must get rid of. We saw this kind of thing hap­pen­ing in 2007,” he said, re­fer­ring to po­lit­i­cal shenan­gians be­fore the ANC’s Polok­wane con­fer­ence, where Ja­cob Zuma was elected ANC pres­i­dent.

“We are now in a sea­son where a num­ber of dirty tricks are be­ing played to dis­credit mem­bers,” he said.

Mkhize said the leaked emails on Ramaphosa were noth­ing but dirty tricks by his po­lit­i­cal op­po­nents to dam­age Ramaphosa’s rep­u­ta­tion.

“The dirty tricks are not some­thing that one re­ally be­lieves is the right way to go, to try throw around fake news and dirty tricks into the sce­nario. We need that en­vi­ron­ment not to be pol­luted by ex­ter­nal­i­ties. It is pos­si­ble that peo­ple will ... cre­ate smear cam­paigns. That is not within our con­trol. I don’t have any­thing that I feel would dis­qual­ify one from par­tic­i­pat­ing in the lead­er­ship of the ANC col­lec­tive that will ap­pear in De­cem­ber,” Mkhize said at a me­dia event in Sand­ton on Thurs­day.

ANC sec­re­tary gen­eral Gwede Man­tashe also con­demned the use of state re­sources for po­lit­i­cal pur­poses.

“Candidates must not see an ad­van­tage in be­ing as­sisted by the state in any way. They [must] con­test on the base of logic, the val­ues of the ANC and on the ethics of pol­i­tics,” Man­tashe told ra­dio sta­tion 702 in an in­ter­view.

“Hack­ing emails and tele­phones and lis­ten­ing to con­ver­sa­tions is quite a se­ri­ous is­sue, it is done through au­tho­ri­sa­tion of or­ders. When it hap­pens that that is ap­par­ent you must al­ways fear that there is a big risk of state re­sources be­ing used. [...] We hope we don’t de­gen­er­ate to the level where the Na­tional Party was, be­cause that was the be­gin­ning of the end.

“It can’t be that we al­low the [mis] use of state in­sti­tu­tions to con­tinue when we are in power,” he said.

“The ANC has no di­rect author­ity over state in­sti­tu­tions. When they lis­ten to your con­ver­sa­tions on the tele­phone, all we can say is, ‘This thing of lis­ten­ing to peo­ple is bad,’ and say to com­rades who are run­ning the state, ‘Let’s not be lis­tened to’.”

When ap­proached for com­ment, po­lice spokesper­son Vishnu Naidoo re­ferred the M&G to the in­spec­tor gen­eral of crime in­tel­li­gence, Setl­homa­maru Din­twe. At­tempts to reach Din­twe for com­ment were un­suc­cess­ful as the phones in his of­fice went unan­swered.

State se­cu­rity spokesper­son Brian Dube said al­le­ga­tions of a covert unit at the State Se­cu­rity Agency had al­ready been dis­pelled.

“The so-called CSU mat­ter is an old mat­ter. In 2014 the [in­spec­tor gen­eral] looked into these al­le­ga­tions when Min­is­ter [David Mahlobo] re­ferred it to that of­fice af­ter the City Press pub­lished the story [about the al­leged ex­is­tence of a covert unit]. The re­port didn’t find any un­law­ful­ness on the part of SSA. That re­port was re­ferred to the JSCI [joint stand­ing com­mit­tee on in­tel­li­gence],” Dube said. “The new al­le­ga­tions raised by the deputy pres­i­dent must be dealt with as such.”

Zuma’s spokesper­son, Bongani Ngqu­lunga, was un­avail­able for com­ment at the time of go­ing to print.

“We should never, as the ANC, de­scend to the level where we utilise state re­sources to tar­get each other” — Cyril Ramaphosa

‘Tar­geted at­tack’: Deputy Pres­i­dent Cyril Ramophosa says he is the vic­tim of a dirty tricks cam­paign that uses state re­sources to tar­get him. Photo: Lisa Hna­tow­icz/ Beeld/ Gallo Images

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from South Africa

© PressReader. All rights reserved.