Ministers' offices swept for bugs - Cwele

2012-05-10 15:50

Cape Town - Cabinet members have asked to have their offices swept for fear that they are being tapped, State Security Minister Siyabonga Cwele said on Thursday.

While acknowledging that concerns about illicit wire tapping were rife, he downplayed suggestions that the requests sprang from a climate of political paranoia created by power struggles within the ruling party.

"No, they are not in panic mode. Yes, we do receive requests from the ministers to sweep their offices. It is part of our mandate, particularly those who are involved in key policy departments and key economic departments."

Speaking to reporters before his budget vote speech, Cwele said the intelligence ministry was being unfairly implicated in political infighting ahead of the ANC's elective conference in December.

"The intelligence community is blamed for all the political woes people may face, and we really appeal to the public not to abuse intelligence, because lots of those things that are being reported in the media, our agency has nothing to do with them.

"We don't interfere in the internal political processes of any party."

He said there was only one case of suspected illicit tapping by a member of the intelligence community, and an investigation into it was far advanced.

"I'm aware of only one such investigation of alleged tapping in my own agency. The report is being finalised and we will take action, we will not hesitate."

National security

Cwele said he was consulted by Police Minister Nathi Mthethwa before Thursday's announcement that controversial crime intelligence boss Richard Mdluli was being sidelined pending an investigation into allegations that the police had become embroiled in politics.

Cwele said the decision to move Mdluli was Mthethwa's, but he agreed that a bitter public spat between the lieutenant general and other top brass had become damaging.

"This public spat by the senior officers is not good for our democracy."

He denied suggestions that the Mdluli saga had become a threat to stability.

"We have not come to that conclusion that the Mdluli matter has become a national security concern."

Cwele also pointed out that so far, murder and fraud charges against Mdluli had led nowhere, and said he was part of the panel that interviewed him for the post and found nothing untoward.

"These court processes have been stopped for one reason or another. You will also remember that there were several court processes before... These are old matters and have not come up with any firm proof of such things."

The withdrawal of criminal charges against Mdluli is part of the controversy around him.

A lawyer for suspended state prosecutor Glynnis Breytenbach has confirmed that she pressed the acting head of the National Prosecuting Authority, Nomgcobo Jiba, to review the decision to drop charges shortly before she was suspended.

- SAPA

Read more on:    glynnis breytenbach  |  nathi mthethwa  |  siyabonga cwele  |  nomgcobo jiba  |  espionage
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