A damning report released by the office of South African president Cyril Ramaphosa has shed light on how civil rights movements were spied on by the State Security Agency (SSA).
The report found that under former president Jacob Zuma, the SSA spied on unions and civil society organizations such as Right2Know and the Council for the Advancement of the South African Constitution (CASAC).
The SSA is also fingered in influencing the media, establishing fake unions in Marikana, abusing funds and conducting illegal intelligence gathering operations.
The high-level panel review that was appointed in June 2018 to assess the integrity of the agency, found that Zuma oversaw the creation of parallel structures within the intelligence service to serve his personal and factional ANC party political interests.
“A key finding of the panel is that there has been political malpurposing and factionalization of the intelligence community over the past decade or more that has resulted in an almost complete disregard for the Constitution, policy, legislation, and other prescripts,” the Presidency said in a statement.
The report further called for firm consequences for those who issued illegal orders and those who wittingly carried them out.
“Members of the SSA in particular, as well as senior politicians, have been in breach of the constitutional provisions regarding obeying a manifestly illegal order and the injunction not to further the interests of any political party in a partisan manner,” the report stated.
The panel comprised of Dr Sydney Mufamadi, Prof Jane Duncan, Barry Gilder, Siphokazi Magadla, Murray Michell, Basetsana Molebatsi, Andre Pruis, Silumko Sokupa, Anthoni Van Nieuwkerk, and Prof Sibusiso Vil-Nkomo.
Speaking to reporters while campaigning for the African National Congress (ANC) in downtown Johannesburg, Ramaphosa praised the importance of ‘transparent’ reports and commissions.
“It’s good to be transparent and let these things come out so that we can repair whatever damage has been done in the past. We’re now on a really good and strong path – this is how we continue to build the state. Statecraft is about making sure that you repair whatever damage has been done and you move forward.”
“I’m assured that we are now going to have a properly realigned State Security Agency.”
Former president Zuma, on the other hand, took to Twitter to rubbish the report.
Zuma tweeted that he had never been asked questions by the panel adding that it had two well-known apartheid spies.
“I’ve never sold out nor written letters to the SB. I feel nothing when Apartheid spies call me corrupt. I hope people are not opening a can of worms which they might regret,” Zuma said in the tweet.
The panel also proposed that the SSA should, among others, be separated into two services; one focusing on domestic and the other on foreign issues.
The Presidency says the report it published has been redacted for public consumption in view of the fact that the full report contains the names and identities of persons who cannot be named at this point, as well as details of operational matters that would compromise the work of the SSA.
Presidency’s spokesperson Khusela Diko said:
“The panel has concluded its work and has submitted a number of recommendations to the president, which includes the reestablishment of a national security counselor. Most importantly, the initiation of investigation and consequence management into what could have gone wrong in the State Security Agency.”