There are reports that Mo Shaik may be appointed director-general of the National Intelligence Agency (NIA) and as usual there are denials all round. Mo’s relationship with Jacob Zuma goes back to the days of the ANC underground when they worked together as ANC intelligence operatives. The most noted underground structure was “Operation Bible”, which Zuma was in command of from Swaziland. The purpose of this operation was to infiltrate the security police and Mo and Yunus Shaik, including Jay Naidoo, were in charge. It was out of this operation that certain ANC cadres were classified as being in cahoots with the apartheid security forces.

When the National Prosecuting Authority (NPA) under Bulelani Ngcuka began investigating Zuma and Mo’s brother, Schabir Shaik, in relation to the arms deal, allegations that he was one of those who connived with the apartheid government to derail the liberation struggle started surfacing. Unsurprisingly the source of these allegations were Mo who had provided information to Sunday Times journalist Ranjeni Munusamy to publish. Information gathered during Operation Bible. The Sunday Times refused to publish this story alleging Ngcuka was so-called Agent RS452. Vusi Mona, who was editor of City Press, gladly published this juicy story under the headline “Was Ngcuka a spy?”

Mo appears to have intended to damage the reputation of Ngcuka and undermine the NPA investigation into the suspected criminal activities of both Zuma and Schabir, even, it is claimed, going to the extent of paying former apartheid police officer Gideon Nieuwoudt to corroborate his allegations. It appeared that by smearing Ngcuka as an apartheid spy, Mo may have believed it would validate claims that Ngcuka was pursuing a personal vendetta. Of course the Hefer Commission, which was set up to investigate these damaging allegations, proved that this was a mere witchhunt by supporters of Zuma. Mo, along with Mac Maharaj, were left with egg on their faces.

The relationship between Zuma and Mo appears to have remained very close pre and post the Polokwane conference. It appears that Mo, despite not having been elected to the ANC national executive committee, has been privy to confidential information. He announced during the Polokwane conference that Zuma intended keeping Trevor Manuel in his cabinet and Zuma did. In March 2009 he further announced that the NPA was going to drop corruption charges against Zuma, and the NPA did. The circumstances surrounding the dropping of these charges seem to have Mo intelligence work written all over them. There was a revelation of some “conspiracy tapes”, which again implicated Ngcuka as having connived with the NPA to prosecute Zuma. To date there has not been any verification or validation of these “conspiracy tapes”, which finally ensured that Zuma ascended to power in line with the wishes of his loyal supporter Mo.

There were allegations during the Polokwane conference that a company, The Elexions Agency, which had been enlisted a few days prior to the conference to run the electoral process, had links to Mo. It was alleged then that this company’s sole objective was to assure Zuma’s decisive victory over his rival, Thabo Mbeki. As expected, Mo vehemently denied any links with this company. Of course these allegations were dismissed and never investigated. It was at this Polokwane conference that Mo arrived with Cape Town underworld chief Cyril Beeka, who he claimed was his bodyguard. Beeka himself is a former member of Umkhonto weSizwe and is reported to have links with the NIA. He has been accused of involvement in crimes relating to drug trafficking, extortion, money laundering, assault, murder and forgery.

The controversial Badih Chaaban — leader of the lesser-known National People’s Party — who has been embroiled in political tussles with DA leader Helen Zille, also has links with underworld kingpins including the Beeka character. Chaaban when quizzed about his relationship with these characters said: “I will not apologise for my association with them — it doesn’t make me a criminal.” A few years later a certain national police commissioner with links to the criminal underworld also publicly declared dodgy characters as “friends, finish and klaar”.

Chaaban was accused of orchestrating defections from the DA by employing illegal means as well as placing Zille under surveillance. The then minister of intelligence, Ronnie Kasrils, denied any involvement of the NIA in this spy saga. The link between Mo and Chaaban is unknown or whether he has any role in the Cape Town spy saga. What we know with certainty is that Mo has connections in the NIA; that he is “friends” with Beeka. We also know that Beeka is “friends” with Chaaban, who has links to the NIA. Links through whom, we do not know.

Mo claims that the previous Mbeki administration “went out to seriously affect the income-earning capacities of people”. He claims to have been blacklisted by the Mbeki government, forgetting that it was the government that had appointed him with no diplomatic expertise as consul-general to Hamburg and later to Algiers. He believes the Zuma government is opening doors for people like him who were sidelined and indeed Zuma has dug around the operatives of the controversial Vula Operation to find “suitable” appointees to key government positions as well as rewarding those who were central to his absurd conspiracy theory, with top posts. The infamous Mona is now the deputy director-general of communications in the Presidency, while Munusamy is the media strategist for Minister of Higher Education Blade Nzimande.

Operation Vula was intended to smuggle ANC operatives into the country during the 1980s and it was central to former president Nelson Mandela having a direct communication channel to other leaders of the liberation struggle such as Oliver Tambo long before Mandela left Victor Verster Prison. Siphiwe Nyanda, who was Mac Maharaj’s deputy in Vula, has been appointed as minister of communications; former ANC spy Vusi Mavimbela is now a director-general in the Presidency; Pravin Gordhan, a former Vula strategist, is now minister of finance; Ivan Pillay, a former senior Vula commander in Lusaka, is now head of investigations at SA Revenue Service and Lindiwe Sisulu, a former member of the ANC’s directorate of intelligence and security, is now minister of defence and military veterans.

Most of these individuals played a central role in ensuring that Zuma won the ANC presidency and that charges of corruption against him were dropped. The key figure of support during the trials and tribulations has not yet been rewarded with a meaningful government position. Mo, with his intelligence background which he has often employed for questionable means, is very much likely to be the director-general of the NIA. Why would Zuma not appoint him? The strategy of the ANC lately has been to leak its intended decisions in order to prepare the public for the official announcement. There is never smoke without fire!

In new administrations around the world, the new president does surround himself with loyalists but the important question is whether these appointments are based on the competence to deliver in terms of the mandate by the people or purely to serve narrow self-interests. The appointments relating to justice, police and intelligence will be viewed with greater suspicion given Zuma’s troubles with the law. There appears to be a deliberate manoeuvring to secure Zuma freedom post his presidency. All these appointments are strategic, from Sandile Ngcobo as chief justice, Jeff Radebe as minister of justice and now the mooted appointment of Mo to the NIA. Should Vusi Pikoli fail in his bid to be reinstated as head of the NPA, it would come as no surprise if someone like Ngoako Ramatlhodi or any other Zuma sympathiser is appointed as national director of public prosecutions.



Sentletse Diakanyo

Sentletse Diakanyo's blogs may contain views on any subject which may upset sensitive readers. Parental guidance is strongly advised.

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