Mole Shaik

2011-01-22 15:41

An explosive WikiLeaks cable claims that spy boss and confidant to President Jacob Zuma, Moe Shaik, threatened to expose “political skeletons” if Zuma’s corruption trial went ahead.

The cable also reveals how Shaik was cultivated by the Americans as a key informant within the Zuma camp.

The meeting between Shaik and an unidentified US political officer took place before Shaik’s appointment to the South African Secret Service (Sass), the country’s foreign ­intelligence service.

The cable gives new insights into the bitter battle that took place between Zuma’s allies and former president Thabo Mbeki’s supporters.

One of the classified US embassy cables, titled “Zuma adviser threatens to expose political skeletons”, claims that Shaik told the Americans that Zuma’s ­legal team would subpoena influential political figures if he lost a bid to have corruption charges against him “re-examined”.

The cable says Shaik named Mbeki, the then suspended police commissioner Jackie Selebi, former director of public prosecutions Vusi Pikoli, then acting head of prosecutions Mokotedi Mpshe as well as former speaker Frene Ginwala as targets.

The cable – one of 250 000 ­leaked to whistleblower website WikiLeaks, but obtained exclusively by Media24 Investigations – also reveals that the US embassy in Pretoria actively cultivated Shaik as a key source of ­information on Zuma’s inner circle and the “motivations and strategies of the Zuma camp”.

Dated September 10 2008, two days before corruption charges against Zuma were dismissed by Pietermaritzburg High Court Judge Chris Nicholson, the cable was sent to the Secretary of State in Washington, DC, and copied to US consuls in Durban and Cape Town, the Central Intelligence Agency, the US Defence ­Intelligence Agency and the White House National Security Council.

It is one of a number of classified cables recording meetings between Shaik – who was appointed head of Sass in October 2009 – and an unidentified US embassy ­political officer.

“Shaik complained that all these people know Zuma is innocent and that he does not understand why they have not come to Zuma’s defence before now,” the cable noted.

The cable commented that, “as usual”, Shaik treated the political officer as “a friend, a child, a confidante and an adversary all in the same conversation”.

A source familiar with Shaik’s ­interaction with the US diplomats claimed this week that Shaik was tasked with selling the idea of a ­Zuma presidency to the American diplomats.

An earlier confidential cable, ­dated May 16 2008, speculated – after a meeting with Shaik – that the “Zuma camp may be looking to oust Mbeki”.

Mbeki was recalled as president in September 2008.

In a cable dated June 4 2009, which focused on Zuma’s new ­cabinet, Shaik ­described the appointments of ­various presidential advisers – among them Collins Chabane, now minister in the presidency for performance monitoring; Ayanda Dlodlo, now deputy minister of ­public service and administration; Mandisi Mpahlwa, now envoy to Moscow; Lindiwe Zulu, Zuma’s ­international affairs adviser; and the president’s legal adviser, ­Bonisiwe Makhene – as concessions to “keep them quiet”.

Contacted this week, Shaik said: “I will neither confirm nor deny that we had discussions with the Americans on these matters, and I will definitely make no comment about the accuracy of those reports. The Americans must deal with accuracy.”

US embassy spokesperson ­Elizabeth Kennedy-Trudeau said the embassy would not confirm or comment on the contents or ­veracity of “stolen documents”.

“The nature of cables is that these are one person’s interpretation of a meeting, not official US public policy.

The circumstances, because of the very nature of spot reporting, are open to interpretation.”

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