'I never truly believed in the role of a minister in intelligence' - Mo Shaik tells Zondo commission

2019-11-26 05:34
Mo Shaik

Mo Shaik (Felix Dlangamandla)

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Former foreign intelligence head Rieaz "Mo" Shaik told the judicial commission of inquiry into state capture on Monday he never truly believed in the role of a minister in intelligence.

"I know this is a career-limiting thing to say, but I never truly believed in the role of a minister in intelligence. 

"Having to report to a minister - I knew it would provide the basis for conflict. My understanding is that the minister should not direct intelligence services, this made it uncomfortable for me to report to a minister - the preference would be to go to a president," he explained.

Shaik was giving testimony to the commission relating to the activities of state security officials.

Shaik, who has an extensive history in intelligence, was appointed in 2009 as head of foreign intelligence under the then-minister of intelligence, Siyabonga Cwele.

Intelligence later became known as the State Security Agency (SSA).

According to Shaik, intelligence directly translated to power as it is was designed to predict or influence events.

"Knowing what is happening allows one to influence the direction. If I know you are going to be appointed minister of finance, I would also assess how the market will interpret your appointment, I could hedge the currency against your appointment - so you can see how knowing events beforehand is such an important thing - that is power," he explained as an example.

As a result, Shaik was of the view that it was not favourable for intelligence to report to or appoint a minister.

Strained relationship

"When you appoint a minister of an intelligence in Cabinet, you are making him first among his peers, he would come to know information about other ministers - it is an unpreferred situation - it should go directly to the president.

"I always favoured the notion that intelligence should report directly to the president. If you do, have a minister stipulate their direct role so that there is no conflict when a situation arises," he added.

The former intelligence head subsequently detailed the first instance of when conflict arose between intelligence and Cwele. This occurred when his then-wife, Sheryl Cwele, was on trial for drug trafficking.

READ: Cwele will speak out on drug dealer wife

The domestic branch of intelligence was providing protection services to her during this period.

"We [former intelligence boss Gibson Njenje, Ambassador Maqetuka and Shaik] discussed it, debated and concluded that the State Security Agency would inform the minister that we would no longer be providing protection services to Mrs Cwele.

"We as senior intelligence were providing protection to a person who was on trial for a drug trafficking offence - it was creating a sense of awkwardness for us," he said.

Sheryl Cwele and co-accused Frank Nabolisa were convicted in the KwaZulu-Natal High Court in May 2011 of using drug mules to smuggle cocaine and were each sentenced to 12 years' imprisonment.

ALSO READ: Sheryl Cwele's jail sentence reduced

The Supreme Court of Appeal (SCA) later increased their sentences to 20 years, but this was followed by the Constitutional Court reducing the sentence to 12 years, News24 reported.

The inquiry continues.

Read more on:    ssa  |  siyabonga cwele  |  mo shaik  |  johannesburg  |  security  |  state capture inquiry  |  state capture

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