South African spy chiefs fired as political turmoil deepens

Moe Shaik

Moe Shaik

By JOSEPH FITSANAKIS | intelNews.org |
The heads of South Africa’s three major intelligence departments have become the latest casualties in a major political battle waging within the ruling African National Congress (ANC), which threatens to engulf the entire country. Several South African news outlets report that Siyabonga Cwele, the country’s Minister for State Security, summarily fired the three senior intelligence officials late last week, after a major row over providing government protection for his wife, who has been convicted of drugs smuggling. The three officials, who have stepped down, are Jeff Maqetuka, Director of the State Security Agency (SSA), and Gibson Njenje and Moe Shaik, respective heads of the SSA’s domestic and external intelligence services. According to press reports, the three officials unanimously objected to Cwele’s order to provide his wife Sheryl with secret service protection during her May 2011 trial for drugs smuggling, in which she was sentenced to 12 years in prison. But there are signs that Sheryl Cwele’s case was simply the last drop, which came on top a series of turf wars and bureaucratic conflicts between various factions of the ANC. Specifically, there is speculation in South African intelligence circles that Gibson Njenje resigned partly in protest against so-called “unauthorized operations”, namely telecommunications and physical surveillance of ANC cabinet ministers. The surveillance operations are reportedly being conducted in preparation for a showdown between rival ANC factions in December of 2013. At that time, ANC President Jacob Zuma is expected to face off the party’s Youth League leader, Julius Malema. The latter, favored by an increasingly disaffected segment of the ANC’s working class supporters, is seen as representing the radical populist wing of the party. Read more of this post

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South African spy chief had secret US talks, embassy cable reveals

Moe Shaik

Moe Shaik

By JOSEPH FITSANAKIS | intelNews.org |
South Africa’s spy chief regularly gave the American embassy in Pretoria detailed information on internal African National Congress (ANC) politics, according to a diplomatic cable leaked by WikiLeaks. The cable, entitled “Zuma Advisor Threatens to Expose Political Skeletons”, was authored on September 10 2008 by the embassy and communicated to several recipients, including the State Department, CIA, and the National Security Council. It reveals that Moe Shaik, who heads the South African Secret Service (SASS), the country’s external intelligence agency, met regularly with an unnamed political officer of the US embassy and “always share[d] insights into the motivations and strategies of the Zuma camp”. The reference is to Jacob Zuma, President of the governing ANC, who assumed the organization’s leadership in May of 2009, after a bitter internal party struggle. Several months prior to Zuma’s election as ANC’s President, the organization’s rival faction, which was loyal to Thabo Mbeki, attempted to challenge Zuma’s eligibility by leveling corruption charges against him. Read more of this post

Documents show Israel offered nukes to apartheid South Africa

Sasha Polakow-Suransky

Polakow-Suransky

By JOSEPH FITSANAKIS | intelNews.org |
Apartheid-era government documents unearthed by an American doctoral researcher reveal that the government of Israel offered to sell nuclear warheads to the racist regime in South Africa, and could possibly provide the first documentary evidence of the existence of Israel’s purported nuclear arsenal. Successive Israeli governments have followed what is often called ‘a policy of ambiguity’, refusing to either confirm or deny the nuclear weapons’ rumored existence. But the documents, which date from 1975, contain detailed minutes of meetings between senior Israeli and South African cabinet officials, including then South African defense minister P.W. Botha and then Israeli defense minister –and Israel’s current President– Shimon Peres. Sasha Polakow-Suransky, the American academic who requested the declassification of the controversial documents, says the Israeli government tried but ultimately failed to prevent the South African government of Jacob Zuma from releasing them. Read more of this post

Civil war continues in South African spy agency

Arthur Fraser

Arthur Fraser

By JOSEPH FITSANAKIS | intelNews.org |
In July of last year, South Africa’s ministerial Review Commission on Intelligence warned that a steadily declining culture of accountability in South Africa’s spy services threatened the country’s constitutional order. In October, the government’s minster for state security, Siyabonga Cwele, cited the Commission’s findings and policy suggestions in announcing a “major restructuring” of South Africa’s security services. Several months later, the “restructuring” process resembles a major civil war between rival political factions of the African National Congress. An entire generation of pro-ANC intelligence officials, who staffed the post-apartheid South African intelligence apparatus, has already been purged. The wave of purges was completed with the resignation this past week of Arthur Fraser, until recently director of the South African National Intelligence Agency’s Operations Division. Read more of this post

South Africa pressed to cut diplomatic, intelligence ties with Israel

By JOSEPH FITSANAKIS | intelNews.org |
After Venezuela and Bolivia, which last week cut off diplomatic relations with Israel in protest of the Jewish state’s invasion of Gaza, the government of South Africa has come under pressure to do likewise. The powerful Congress of South African Trade Unions (COSATU) urged the governing African National Congress (ANC) to “cease all relations with Israel and close down the Israeli embassy in Pretoria”. The organization also called on the governing party to expel “Israeli security agencies and Mossad” operatives from the country. Although it is unclear whether COSATU’s call will influence South Africa’s official relations with Israel, it will be difficult for the ANC to ignore it completely, especially with Jacob Zuma now at its helm. Read more of this post