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There is clear and compelling evidence that Mo Shaik is not suitable for any role in the public service, least of all the intelligence services.
He represents a faction inside the ANC and has a history of using what appears to be fabricated evidence to protect Jacob Zuma and malign his opponents.
This is not what South Africa needs. We need a Secret Service that is loyal to the public and its interests and that always acts to put the country's needs ahead of the factional agenda of a particular element of the ruling party. We also need leaders who are beyond reproach, who are accountable and upstanding. If these requirements are not met, it will not only be our intelligence services that suffer as a result but the public's faith in them.
There are two particular incidents in which Mo Shaik seems to have played a prominent role and which have consequences for his ability to properly and fairly fulfil the requirements of his new position as head of South African Secret Service.
The Hefer Commission
The first concerns the allegations made against former National Director of Public Prosecutions, Bulelani Ngcuka, by Mo Shaik (himself a former ANC intelligence operative) and Mac Maharaj, that Ngcuka was an apartheid spy. The allegations were based on documents for an ANC operation called ‘The Bible Project', an initiative which had fallen under the direct supervision of Jacob Zuma, while the ANC was in exile. As a consequence of those allegations, President Mbeki set up the Hefer Commission of Inquiry in October 2003.
Mark Gevisser, in his biography of Mbeki, describes the Commission as follows:
"Mbeki's appointment of the Hefer Commission of Inquiry to investigate the allegation against Ngcuka was a stoke of genius: it humiliated Maharaj and Shaik, and created a public drama, played out on South Africa's television screens like a daily soap, calculated precisely to show South Africa what happens to intemperate old comrades who cry impimpi, and to nip in the bud any future impulses to do the same."
Significantly, when Mo Shaik and Maharaj were called to testify before the Commission, it appeared they had no facts to back up their allegations. Paul Holden, in his book on the Arms Deal, puts it like this:
"On this score, Maharaj was less than convincing. Under cross-examination, he admitted that the major source of the document that implicated Ngcuka was Mo Shaik."
Crucially, Shaik was quoted by The Star newspaper (21 November 2003) saying the following:
"I went public with the allegations about Ngcuka in order to defend the honour of the Deputy President [Jacob Zuma] of this country".
At the end of the day, Ngcuka was cleared of spying by the Commission.
Against this background, and with reference to both Maharaj and Shaik, ANC activist Raymond Suttner has the following to say about the role that intelligence played in the ANC during the fight for liberation:
"Intelligence was received purportedly always to enable the underground to take offensive or defensive action. But, as we have seen, it could easily be deployed for factional purposes and activity unrelated to liberation per se. Given the secrecy within which intelligence organisations operate and the ANC intelligence operated during the struggle, what determined when or whether information was used and how it could be employed? There are no clear guidelines for determining the conditions that justify making the data from intelligence sources known to others or in the current situation (then or now) to the public at large"
Thus, in summary, the following can be said about Shaik's role in the Ngcuka allegations:
- He used unsubstantiated evidence to malign the National Director of Public Prosecutions in order to "defend the honour" of Jacob Zuma.
- He is fiercely loyal to the President Zuma.
- He was embarrassed by President Mbeki.
- He has personal factional interests and is unable to be objective.
- He is willing to use information to settle personal feuds.
- He comes from an intelligence organisational culture without proper guidelines, fuelled by suspicion and without proper procedures or systems.
Second, there are a number of outstanding questions about Mo Shaik's role in the Arms Deal; particularly his deployment to Germany as consul-general.
Andrew Feinstein in his book ‘After the Party' puts it like this:
"The case of the German component is an intriguing one. With respect to the frigates, the navy had agreed that the ships should be built by a Spanish company Bazan. However, after Deputy President Thabo Mbeki made a visit to Germany, the tender was re-opened. Soon after Thabo's return, Mo Shaik (with no diplomatic expertise whatsoever) was appointed South Africa's consul-general in Hamburg, the headquarters of the German Frigate Consortium. A few months later it was announced that the contract had been awarded to the GFC. Our consulate in Hamburg was closed down and Mo moved on to become South Africa's Ambassador to Algeria.
When in March 2007 the information of Chippy's receipt of $3 million was made available to the South African authorities, newspapers reported that Chippy had fled the country and was in hiding. When questioned about the allegations Mo replied that the German rumours were old news and had all been heard before. They were not. This was the first time that documented evidence linked Chippy to the soliciting of a bribe from one of the bidders who was awarded in highly dubious circumstance. And lest we forget, Chippy's jailed brother Schabir benefited from sub-contacts linked to the [German Frigate Consortium] deal."
From this, the following questions remain:
- What role did Mo Shaik play in facilitating the GFC deal?
- Why was the Hamburg consulate shut down?
- Why was it opened in Hamburg in particular?
Statement issued by Theo Coetzee, MP, Democratic Alliance shadow minister of intelligence.