Ex-spy boss wants intelligence files on Ramaphosa declassified for state capture commission

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Arthur Fraser
Arthur Fraser
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  • Former spy boss Arthur Fraser wants at least 41 classified intelligence documents declassified.
  • He says the documents form part of his affidavit to the Zondo commission on state capture.
  • The dossiers include one on President Cyril Ramaphosa by the State Security Agency.

Former State Security Agency (SSA) director-general Arthur Fraser has requested the SSA to declassify certain intelligence files, including a copy of a file on President Cyril Ramaphosa.

In a letter to acting SSA director-general Loyiso Jafta, Fraser noted that the dossier contains information on Ramaphosa's business, political and personal activities and associates.

In the letter, dated 5 August and leaked this week, Fraser, who has been implicated in wrongdoing before the commission of inquiry into state capture, made the request for Jafta to declassify 41 files and dossiers of intelligence information.

"In order to prepare his statement and evidence to the state capture commission, our client instructs us to request, as we hereby do, the declassification of classified documentation and to be furnished with copies," the letter reads, adding that the documents should be delivered no later than 14 August. 

Speaking to News24 on Thursday, however, his lawyer, Rapulane Kgoroeadira, said Fraser has not received any classified or declassified documents from the SSA as yet: 

We are on record having previously indicated to the chairperson that our client is willing and is actually prepared to come to Zondo. That still stands. He really wants to assist the commission as a civil servant and as a citizen to get to the bottom of the purpose of the commission. We are rearing to go.

Kgoroeadira added that Fraser's affidavit to the commission was more than 70 pages long and 90% done.

In August, Fraser threatened to lay bare to the commission "secrets" that "relate to presidents" and "judges".

Fraser told the Zondo commission – through his lawyers – that he would be completing the picture for the commission about secrets of the state and "about who exactly is subverting our state".

Fraser was appointed as spy boss by former president Jacob Zuma in 2016.

He was then removed after investigative journalist Jacques Pauw's book The President's Keepers, which fingered him as having ran a parallel intelligence network during a previous stint at the spy agency before 2010.

According to the book, an internal SSA probe concluded that Fraser should be charged with treason for his role in the running of the project.

READ | Mr President, you have been lied to - Arthur Fraser

Fraser allegedly initiated and oversaw the parallel intelligence network project as deputy director-general of the National Intelligence Agency (NIA) between 2007 and 2009.

Some of the files Fraser wants in his arsenal for the Zondo commission relate to projects with ominous names such as "Exploit", "Anaconda" and "Yellow bone".

Other documents Fraser wants declassified include a copy of the outcome of an investigation into the withdrawal of the security clearance of the inspector-general of intelligence Setlhomamaru Dintwe, as well as a copy of the complete dossier on the 2017-18 investigation and decision by Fraser to revoke his security clearance.

During Fraser's term at the SSA, the two men were at loggerheads. Fraser accused Dintwe of leaking classified information while Dintwe accused Fraser of interfering with his functions while he was investigating a complaint lodged against Fraser in his capacity as SSA director-general.Dintwe had been investigating Fraser following a formal complaint lodged by the DA over Fraser's alleged involvement in a parallel intelligence network. According Dintwe's affidavit in 2018, Fraser was alleged to have fraudulently copied the signature of then-intelligence minister Ronnie Kasrils between 2007 and 2008, when establishing the illegal intelligence programme.He is also said to have improperly awarded tenders and contracts to people associated with his family, and other individuals, through the parallel intelligence network.Dintwe said Fraser had been aware he was the subject of an investigation since May 2017.

READ MORE | State capture: Ex-spy boss Arthur Fraser to reveal 'secrets' relating to 'presidents', says lawyer

Fraser has since also asked Jafta for copies of authorisations by Kasrils for the NIA's Principal Agent Network (PAN), as well as copies of all the presentations made by different chief directorates of the programme and the minutes of all the meetings and workshops where these presentations were made.

The SSA's high-level review panel report described PAN, which was dissolved in 2011, as having "evolved" into a way in which employees could "bypass the procedural recruitment of staff, disbursement of funds and procurement.

Pauw described it as "a parallel and detached intelligence network that operated independently of the NIA".The author also described the unit as a "black hole" into which hundreds of millions of rands were poured, with the public's return on investment close to nil.The allegations put before the SSA high-level review panel about the PAN were "disturbing", according to the report."It appeared to the panel that there had been instances of serious criminal behaviour which had taken place under the guise of conducting covert work and that this behaviour may have involved theft, forgery and uttering, fraud, corruption and even bordered on transgressions of the Prevention of Organised Crime Act," according to the SSA report.

It is unclear why Fraser wants the intelligence dossier on Ramaphosa declassified. Ramaphosa appointed him as director-general of correctional services in 2018.

News24 previously reported that Ramaphosa's private and "secure" 2017 ANC presidential campaign emails from the server, alexio.online, was handed to the publication last year.

These emails, between Ramaphosa and some of his top advisors, provide a keen insight into the operations of the Presidency in the first months after he took office in February 2018.

EXPLAINED | Why you should be concerned about President Cyril Ramaphosa's email leaks

The topics covered in the latest emails range from the wrangling around setting up meetings with foreign diplomats, Ramaphosa's relationship with high-profile South African businessmen and even an unfiltered look at what the president privately prioritised as his most important tasks in the first months of his presidency – and some rather candid comments that could potentially be embarrassing.

The emails were relied on by Public Protector Busisiwe Mkhwebane in her report. They revealed a direct contradiction to Ramaphosa's consistent and public denials of knowledge of who his funders were.In court papers, Ramaphosa has accused Mkhwebane of obtaining the emails illegally, and bemoaned that she had never given him an opportunity to address the content of the emails.

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