Shaik 'has a tainted record'
Johannesburg - The "tainted" record of newly-appointed secret service head Mo Shaik left much to be desired, the Azanian People's organisation (Azapo) charged on Sunday.
"The intelligence wing of our country has been riddled with embarrassing issues...," Azapo secretary general Strike Thokoane said in a statement issued after a weekend meeting of its central committee in Braamfontein, Johannesburg.
President Jacob Zuma was known to have benefited from intelligence - some of which was obtained from Shaik, Thokoane said, noting that concerns had been raised about whether this would have held up to judicial scrutiny.
It had been necessary to stabilise the intelligence wing "with people of integrity whose standing in society cannot be questioned".
"The importance of the intelligence of a country is one of the most important activities for the protection and security of a people," he said, voicing Azapo's "sadness" at Shaik's appointment.
Mo Shaik is the brother of convicted fraudster, Shabir Shaik - the former financial adviser of Zuma - and is himself a close associate of Zuma, in whose presidential campaign he is said to have played a key role.
While his appointment has been widely criticised by political parties as a reward for this loyalty to Zuma, State Security Minister Siyabonga Cwele said he was appointed because of his vast experience in intelligence matters.
"He [Shaik] served in the international underground structures of the ANC in Natal. His duties involved collection and analysis of intelligence at the coal-face," said Cwele.
Shaik has served as an ambassador, special adviser to the minister of foreign affairs and head of the policy research unit.
"This appointment has clearly been made to consolidate the Zuma faction's hold over the South African intelligence community," said Democratic Alliance MP Theo Coetzee.
It was inappropriate for the president's close personal friend and brother of the man convicted for his "generally corrupt relationship" with the president to be appointed to such a senior post in the intelligence, he said.
Congress of the People spokesperson Phillip Dexter said Shaik's appointment was concerning as he had proved himself to be an unprofessional person.
It was "further proof that loyal political supporters are still being appointed to top positions by the ANC leadership", added FF Plus MP Pieter Groenewald. The Shaik appointment should have been avoided because of his "controversial family ties" with Zuma, he said.
"In the secret service industry, controversy should always be avoided and Shaik's appointment is controversial per se," Groenewald said.
The secret service is charged with gathering intelligence, including military intelligence, beyond South Africa's borders and identify any potential threats to the country.