[DEBATE] : Karima Brown, Amy Musgrave and Hajra Omarjee: Parliament sought NPA probe
dominic.tweedie at gmail.com
Sun Apr 12 21:15:47 BST 2009
Parliament sought NPA probe
McCarthy tap was above board and came after Browse Mole admission,
write KARIMA BROWN, AMY MUSGRAVE and HAJRA OMARJEE
Business Day Weekender, Johannesburg, 11 April 2009
THE National Intelligence Agency (NIA) began monitoring former
Scorpions boss Leonard McCarthy after Parliament found his unit’s
activities were “very dangerous and against our national interest”.
This followed McCarthy’s admission to Parliament’s joint standing
committee on intelligence that the Scorpions were the authors of the
top-secret Browse Mole report.
“The (committee) has come to the conclusion that the activities of the
Directorate of Special Operations (DSO, or Scorpions) in relation to
the production of the Browse Mole Report were very dangerous and
against our national interest,” its November 2007 special report on
the Browse Mole Report read.
“The contents of the Browse Mole Report are extremely inflammatory and
divisive. It has the potential of throwing our new democracy into
Among other things, the report alleged that South African Communist
Party general secretary Blade Nzimande was promoting a “street-level
revolution in SA, in support of Zuma’s political aspirations”.
It also claimed veteran Umkhonto weSizwe leaders, including former
South African National Defence Force chief Siphiwe Nyanda, had
discussed with African National Congress (ANC) president Jacob Zuma
the use of the army in the event of a coup.
The intelligence committee’s report on the Browse Mole Report stated
that the Scorpions were “involved in several illegal activities
including intelligence gathering without a legal mandate, lack of
appropriate security clearance for DSO officials … and unauthorised
interaction with private intelligence companies and foreign
“Such illegal and dangerous activities should be rooted out of our
state institutions,” it said.
The NIA began monitoring McCarthy — with the requisite permission from
a judge — following this instruction from the parliamentary committee.
And in the course of doing so, they overheard McCarthy’s conversations
with former National Prosecuting Authority (NPA) head Bulelani Ngcuka,
former president Thabo Mbeki and others, discussing when it would best
suit Mbeki for Zuma to be charged with corruption.
While a storm has broken over how Zuma’s legal team had obtained the
taped conversations, — now the subject of an investigation by the
inspector-general of intelligence — the NPA says the NIA had obtained
permission from a judge, as is required by law, to intercept
McCarthy’s conversations after he had conceded that the Scorpions had
illegally gathered intelligence on Zuma .
The conversations, mainly between Ngcuka and McCarthy, suggest that
the NPA was used as a political tool in the ANC’s presidential
succession race in 2007.
NIA spokeswoman Lorna Daniels refuses to be drawn on newspaper reports
that the NIA’s deputy director, Arthur Fraser, leaked its recordings.
Daniels says the matter is the subject of an investigation by the
Mbeki insists he had no involvement in the political conspiracy against Zuma.
Earlier this week Mbeki warned against the propagation of “falsehoods”
and reiterated that neither he nor his executive “instructed,
encouraged, aided or sanctioned” interference in the Zuma prosecution.
“Personally, I wish to reiterate that at no stage did I interfere or
contemplate interfering in the case,” he said in a statement.
The ANC Youth League and the Young Communist League dismissed his
denial, however, describing him as the “kingpin” behind the
The declassified NIA tapes, the basis for dropping all 16 charges
against Zuma on Monday, suggest Mbeki did play a role in McCarthy’s
decisions to charge Zuma in December 2007.
The NPA was first alerted to the taped telephone conversations by
Zuma’s legal team when they made representations regarding the state’s
case against the ANC president.
Apart from showing that the timing of bringing new charges against
Zuma was discussed with people outside the NPA, the tapes appear to
place Mbeki at the centre of the controversy, with the backdrop being
the ANC’s national conference in December 2007.
Zuma and his allies have long argued that his prosecution was
politically driven by people seeking to frustrate his political
While the NPA has said in court that it had decided to charge Zuma on
December 27 2007, the transcripts point to a different sequence of
events. They indicate that McCarthy took the decision to charge Zuma
on December 19, the day after Mbeki lost the ANC presidency to Zuma.
In a possible reference to a meeting with Mbeki on December 21 to
discuss this decision, McCarthy says to Ngcuka: “The longer we delay
the worse it becomes. We make it impossible for ourselves to proceed
if the guy wants us to meet and um … and just do it.”
In reference to the meeting (allegedly with Mbeki), McCarthy leaves a
voice message for a Scorpions operative, referred to as F Davids in
the transcripts, on December 24 saying: “Davids, uh, McCarthy here,
give me a ring please … I am a Thabo man, I mean we are still wiping
the blood from our faces, or egg, or egg and blood from our faces.
“Saw the man (allegedly Mbeki) on Friday (Dec 21) evening, we planning
a comeback strategy. And once we have achieved that we will clean up
all around us my friend. Bye.”
The transcripts suggest that not only was Ngcuka giving McCarthy
instructions, but that the motivation to charge Zuma once again was
inextricably linked to Mbeki’s defeat at Polokwane.
An NPA insider says McCarthy’s position as head of the Scorpions made
his collusion all the more untenable.
“It’s not as if Leonard was a lowly prosecutor,” the insider says.
“He was the head of the investigation. He was there from the start of
the case and he drove the case on a daily basis.”
The NPA team which reviewed its decision to charge Zuma after hearing
the tapes also fears that McCarthy succumbed to political pressure on
Zuma before December 2007. The Special Browse Mole Report was
commissioned by McCarthy in 2006.
The transcripts also show how McCarthy leaked NPA Constitutional Court
papers on the Zuma matter to Ngcuka for approval.
The two also discussed how to get the story to the media. On the eve
of the Polokwane conference the media published leaked information on
the new charges Zuma would face.
The transcripts also suggest Mbeki interfered in national police
commissioner Jackie Selebi’s criminal case.
Mbeki suspended former NPA boss Vusi Pikoli in September 2007 as he
would not delay arresting Selebi for corruption related to organised
The transcripts reveal disagreement on the timing of Selebi’s arrest
and the way forward in the case. The taped conversations show there
were political, instead of legal, considerations of the Selebi
“I have been advised to give Ouboet (the NPA says this is Selebi) and
Oujan (the NPA says this is Zuma) a break in the interest of SA …
tenuous times,” McCarthy tells a person known only as Luciano on
December 16 2007.
NPA insiders suggest Mbeki feared Selebi would join the Zuma camp,
which would weaken the former president when he least needed it.
By then it had already become clear that Mbeki had lost the support of
the ANC’s provincial structures in the nominations process leading up
to the Polokwane conference.
On Thursday this week the Young Communist League reiterated its call
for every security agency to come clean on the extent to which they
were used in the ANC’s factional battles.
The league’s national secretary, Buti Manamela , called for Ngcuka,
McCarthy and Mbeki to be questioned by the police.
Manamela also called on Congress of the People (COPE) deputy president
Mbhazima Shilowa to answer questions.
“Shilowa should answer as to who is the Sam who is being referred to
in the discussions between McCarthy, Ngcuka and businessman Mzi
Khumalo,” Manamela said.
Shilowa says he did not have a conversation with McCarthy in December
2007 but does not know whether the Sam on the tapes is him. In the
transcripts Ngcuka refers to a dinner attended by Khumalo, “Sam” and a
In the aftermath of the tapes being revealed, calls have mounted for
heads to roll. While NPA boss Mokotedi Mpshe placed all the blame
squarely on McCarthy, McCarthy has hit back, saying it was Mpshe who
took the decision to charge Zuma in 2007.
Mpshe said he had no “conclusive” proof that Mbeki was the “big man”
or “number one” referred to in the tapes.
The NPA is compiling a detailed report on what went wrong with the
This report could form the basis of a judicial inquiry, where it is
likely Mbeki and others could be called to explain their alleged roles
in the debacle.
Mbeki has said that anyone with information on attempts to interfere
with the prosecution should report this to the police.
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