Deputy Minister of Water and Sanitation David Mahlobo is facing possible investigation relating to his role at the State Security Agency (SSA). President Cyril Ramaphosa made the revelation during his appearance at the state capture commission on Thursday. The president also revealed that former SSA director-general Arthur Fraser was among those on the radar of such a probe.
However, he said his actions would be informed by the report set to be handed over by commission chairperson Raymond Zondo.
Mahlobo was the minister of state security during former president Jacob Zuma’s term. The commission’s evidence leader, Advocate Paul Pretorius, had asked Ramaphosa whether he had considered allegations against Mahlobo, some of which he had denied during his appearance at the commission, before he had appointed him to the Cabinet in 2019.
Pretorius said serious allegations had been made against Mahlobo in the high-level review panel on the SSA compiled by Dr Sydney Mufamadi, former safety and security minister. The report, which Ramaphosa commissioned in 2018, was released in 2019.
In relation to Fraser, Pretorius said there was a criminal investigation that was halted against him.
This dates back to over a decade ago, relating to the establishment of a network of agents outside the agency, which led to irregular appointments and procurement processes.
Ramaphosa also revealed that an intensive investigation was under way at SSA to probe allegations relating to unrecovered arms, which were issued for a unit that was set up to protect Zuma. He said those who had been purged from SSA because of their stance against corruption would be reinstated.
‘I’m not a dictator’
For the first time since his Cabinet reshuffle last week, Ramaphosa detailed reasons behind his decision to put SSA under his control.
He said the agency was an asset of the nation and should be seen in that light and inspire confidence that it was there to serve the nation, not certain sections.
According to Mufamadi’s report, Ramaphosa said that, in the past, the agency had served “factional” interests, including those within the ANC.
He said there were a lot of good people within the agency. Ramaphosa said putting the SSA under presidential control was happening in many countries with divisional heads reporting to the president. He said they were hoping for and committed to the realignment and professionalisation of the agency.
The Ramaphosa said there were perceptions that his presidency was an “emerging dictatorship” and the country was becoming a totalitarian state. Others, he said, claimed he would use the agency to deal with his opponents.
“I’m not wired that way,” he said, and explained that the agency would be disinfected from any partisanship.
“We want to re-align, repurpose it and, in having Mufamadi who headed the high-level panel report, it is great for us as the nation.”
State-owned enterprise council
Ramaphosa said the council, to which he had appointed members in 2020, would look into how black economic deals involving state-owned enterprises were conducted.
This after the commission’s evidence leader Anton Myburg highlighted corrupt activities at Transnet. Myburg cited consultation deals entered into by Regiments Capital and McKinsey, which led to misspending by Transnet for over R1 billion.
Ramaphosa said he was opposed to outsourcing because this weakened the state:
He said the Transnet outsourcing was a clear demonstration of capture.
However, he said his attitude against the use of consultants did not mean exceptional tasks should not be outsourced by government institutions.