Zuma and his faction wanted to capture State Security Agency, Zondo commission hears

Former president Jacob Zuma.
Former president Jacob Zuma.
Gallo Images/Thulie Dlamini
  • The Zondo Commission has heard that former president Jacob Zuma and his faction wanted to capture the State Security Agency. 
  • The former SSA director-general was testifying at the inquiry on Friday. 
  • He said more sinister objectives were at play in the restructuring of the agency.

The former director-general of the State Security Agency (SSA), Mzuvukile Maqetuka, has alleged that former president Jacob Zuma and his faction wanted to capture the agency. 

Maqetuka was testifying before the inquiry chair, Deputy Chief Justice Raymond Zondo, on Friday. He said when it was apparent that he and his other intelligence colleagues - Mo Shaik and Gibson Njenje - did not serve Zuma's broader agenda, they were replaced.

Maqetuka was appointed by Zuma in 2009. 

He said they were opposed to the idea of a new agency, which Zuma wanted to establish through a proclamation like "a presidential decree and it does not go through Parliament". 

"It was my view that the reason for the restructuring of the intelligence services was that, post-Polokwane ANC elective conference, the faction in support of the former president, the Zuma faction, wanted to assert their control. 

Rationale

"They applied their mind to the rationale for doing so, that is, for the creation of the SSA," he said. 

He said with regard to the events that followed after they left the agency, and the parallel intelligence operations conducted by the agency's former boss Arthur Fraser, "it may be that more sinister objectives were at play in the restructuring". 

"It may be that while the former president believed that we would all serve his broader agenda to perhaps capture the intelligence services when it was apparent that we were not as compliant as expected, we were replaced so that he could pursue his agenda unhindered. 

"I'm convinced even more now that our leaving, and I'm talking about myself, Njenje and Shaik, the organisation is tantamount to constructive dismissal. If you follow the events, there must have been a rational for that," he said. 

He also said he agreed with Shaik that there was no need for a minister of intelligence. "It is my view that the concept of having a minister of intelligence is in direct conflict with the basic principles of intelligence set out in the White Paper," Maqetuka said.

He also questioned how it could be possible for one to separate the intelligence service from the executive.

Earlier during his testimony, Maqetuka told the commission of inquiry that although he does not recall former State Security minister Siyabonga Cwele instructing them to stop investigating the controversial Gupta family, "his utterances, interaction and gestures were that this must stop".

He said he and his intelligence colleagues, Njenje and Shaik, had a meeting with Cwele in Cape Town in 2011, but the meeting did not yield results. 

READ | Shaik: Ex-state security minister's bid to stop SSA probe of Guptas 'was illegal'

He said in that meeting they were mostly "rambling" about the so-called conflict of interest regarding Njenje's business interests and the Guptas.

He said, until today, he was still curious about what business interests Cwele was referring to.

"When I saw that we were not being serious about the matter, I said to the minister that we would discuss the matter with the president… at that time I was very clear I am not going to get instructions from the minister on this investigation. We will report this matter with the president."

He said they approached Zuma and told him about the contents of the investigation. He added that Zuma told them in detail about his relationship with the Gupta family.

"The president was going along with the idea that the investigation was irregular," Maqetuka said. 

He said although Zuma did not instruct them to stop the investigation, his demeanour during the meeting made it clear that he wanted it to stop. 

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