Cwele: Zuma must act

2011-09-12 00:00

PRESIDENT Jacob Zuma must start taking action against cabinet ministers abusing state resources for their own benefit as this is beginning to be embarrassing for him and the government he leads.

So said independent political analyst Professor Adam Habib following weekend reports that State Security Minister Siyabonga Cwele’s wife, Sheryl, was provided with bodyguards by the Secret Service Agency (SSA) for the duration of her drug-trafficking trial.

The newspapers said the development was a source of an alleged showdown between Minister Cwele and three senior officials in his department, SSA head Gibson Njenje, director-general Jeff Maqetuka and the head of the foreign branch of the SSA, Mo Shaik. The three officials are said to have been asked by Cwele to resign.

Habib said that if Sheryl Cwele was provided with guards by the agency, which usually only protects foreign heads of state, this is a clear abuse of state resources. Incidents like this are ongoing, he said.

“Prior to this it was Co-operative Governance and Traditional Affairs Minister Sicelo Shiceka, then it was Public Works Minister Gwen Mahlangu-Nkabinde and the national police commissioner, and now it’s Cwele and the list is continuing.

“There was no security conern that could justify the minister’s decision. It’s a clear abuse of state resources. The president must be worried because this reflects badly on his name as the leader of this government,” Habib said.

City Press quoted State Security Ministry spokesperson Brian Dube confirming that Njenje resigned to pursue other interests and the minister accepted his resignation. However, in a Sunday Times report Njenje denied he has quit.

“I am shocked to hear from you that I have resigned. I know nothing about that. I have not resigned. I have not had any discussion with the minister with regards to my resignation,” Njenje told the Sunday Times.

City Press said the catalyst for the showdown was a deep unhappiness within the SSA (the former National Intelligence Agency) after Cwele allegedly ordered that his wife be afforded intelligence security during the trial from 2009 May 2011.

Insiders claim she was driven to and from her trial in official vehicles and protected by intelligence agency officers.

City Press said it understands Njenje recently confronted the minister with the security costs, leading to a showdown with Cwele.

The newspaper said Cwele also asked Maqetuka and Shaik to resign, but they have refused and sought legal advice.

The Democratic Alliance shadow minister on state security, Dirk Stubbe, said he wrote to Cwele yesterday asking him to furnish him with the letter of resignation from Njenje.

“We cannot allow intelligence services to become a tool of factions interests of the ANC as it heads towards its conference in Manaung next year,” Stubbe said.

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