Cwele and Guptas: state spies draw a veil

2013-05-07 00:00

THE State Security Department, which manages the country’s spies and intelligence agents, yesterday drew a veil over alleged ministerial interference to protect the Gupta family from an official investigation.

President Jacob Zuma is in the spotlight over his close ties to the Guptas, who own the Sahara computer company and the New Age newspaper, and are under fire for landing a planeload of wedding guests at the Waterkloof airforce base.

Political journalist Ranjeni Munusamy wrote yesterday in the online newspaper the Daily Maverick that in 2011 State Security Minister Siyabonga Cwele stepped in to curb an investigation into the influence and behaviour of the Guptas. Cwele is a close confidant of Zuma.

According to Munusamy’s article, Cwele’s intervention in the Gupta investigation was the reason the top management of his department (Gibson Njenje, Mo Shaik and Jeff Maqetuka, in practice the country’s three most senior spy bosses) all resigned within months of each other.

Munusamy wrote that the three opposed Cwele’s interference and went to Zuma, but he chose not to do anything.

On inquiry, State Security spokesperson Brian Dube neither confirmed nor denied Munusamy’s article. “We do not comment on allegations paraded in the media as facts. The writer is giving her opinion, to which she is entitled,” Dube said by SMS.

The Democratic Alliance has vowed not to leave the matter there. Defence spokesperson David Maynier said he would address a written question to Cwele over the allegations.

“If it is true the minister interfered, it is difficult to believe he would have done it for any other reason than to protect President Zuma, because an investigation into the Guptas would necessarily have meant an investigation into Zuma himself,” he said.

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