Analysts divided as Ramaphosa brings back Mbeki securocrats to probe State Security Agency

2018-06-15 19:01
(Picture: AFP)

(Picture: AFP)

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President Cyril Ramaphosa has brought back former securocrats who served during former president Thabo Mbeki's administration to investigate the State Security Agency (SSA).

Political analysts were divided over the move, with some saying the investigation would "lack legitimacy" as Ramaphosa would be seen to be using former president Jacob Zuma's enemies against him, while others say the group has the required experience to probe the agency.

Ramaphosa appointed former police minister Sydney Mufamadi to head up the high-level review panel into the agency which has over the years been plagued by allegations of political interference and corruption.

READ: Ramaphosa launches high-level investigation into State Security Agency

The ten-member panel includes former spy chief and home affairs director general Barry Gilder and Andre Pruis, who served as a deputy police commissioner. Former coordinator for intelligence, Silumko Sokupa, will also be part of the panel.

Murray Michell, who will also be serving on the review panel, is the former director at the Financial Intelligence Centre (FIC) during whose tenure suspicious transactions by the Guptas were exposed, leading to their bank accounts being closed.

FIC also exposed former South African Revenue Service (SARS) official Jonas Makwakwa's irregular financial transactions.

Benefit of hindsight

Suspended SARS head Tom Moyane is under investigation for failing to act on the allegations.

News24 resident analyst Mpumi Mkhabela gave the investigating team the thumbs up, saying their experience would help in the investigation.

"They have experience. They know how the security system was designed immediately after 1994 and with the benefit of hindsight and having observed the subsequent decimation and politicisation of intelligence structures, they are in a better position now to come up with sensible recommendations," Mkhabela said.

Ramaphosa announced on Friday that he had established a review panel to assess the structure of the SSA, its systems and capacity to deliver on its mandate.

The investigation is regarded as a step towards overhauling the agency that has dominated headlines with allegations that Zuma was in full control.

Ramaphosa earlier moved SSA director general Arthur Fraser to correctional services after it emerged that he revoked the security clearance of the Inspector-General of Intelligence.

Legitimacy at risk

He also fired the former inexperienced state security minister Bongani Bongo and replaced him with Dipuo Letsatsi-Duba.

ALSO READ: Minister Letsatsi-Duba wants to 'arrest the rot' at the SSA

News24's other resident analyst Ralph Mathekga warned against the resuscitation of the "old guard" in the security sector.

He said while the investigation into the SSA was necessary, its legitimacy could be questioned, and it could be seen as factional.

"It's a good thing to investigate, but why go that direction of appointing those people? The review will suffer legitimacy especially from those people who are anti-Ramaphosa and supportive of Zuma," said Mathekga.

"Reinstating people that Zuma fired, even though some of them were good people, makes it difficult for a realignment away from the factional politics. He comes across as reinstating a faction," he added.

When he reshuffled Cabinet earlier this year, Ramaphosa reinstated some of the ministers that Zuma fired, including Pravin Gordhan and Nhlanhla Nene. He also announced on Thursday that he had appointed Charles Nqakula as his security adviser.

A balanced outcome

Nqakula served as police and defence minister in Mbeki's administration.

"Is Ramaphosa realising that he has fewer friends and he is working hard to resuscitate Zuma's old enemies against his new enemy (Zuma)?" Mathekga wondered.

Mkhabela, however, argued that the panel indicated that Ramaphosa wanted to "get to the bottom of the problem and take advice on solutions".

"It's not the kind of people who can rubber-stamp a preconceived idea," he said.

He also praised the inclusion of academics Professor Jane Duncan, Professor Sibusiso Vil-Nkomo, Dr Siphokazi Magadla and Anthoni Van Nieuwkerk and said it would help balance the outcome.

Duncan is a professor of journalism at the University of Johannesburg and an outspoken critic of the securitisation of the state and author of The Rise of the Securocrats. She is also revered as a freedom of speech campaigner.

Lawyer Basetsana Molebatsi is also part of the panel.

Read more on:    cyril ramaphosa  |  jacob zuma

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