South African spies suspended

Tuesday, October 25, 2005 File:Za-coa.png

South Africa Coat of Arms
(Image missing from Commons: image; log)

Three officials of the National Intelligence Agency (NIA) in South Africa have been suspended for allegedly spying on Saki Macozoma, a businessman with the African National Congress (ANC). The three men; deputy director general Gibson Njenje, general manager Bob Mhlanga, and director general Billie Masethla were temporarily relieved of duty by Intelligence Minister Ronnie Kasrils following the allegations.

Masethla has been reported to have clashed with Kasrils over an allegation he made about members of the Directorate of Special Operations(DSO). Also known as the Scorpions the DSO's mandate is to investigate and prosecute corruption and organized crime. It is a division of the National Prosecuting Authority in South Africa.

In a submission to the Khampepe Commission, which is heading an inquiry into the future of the Scorpions, Masethla charged that members were acting as agents for foreign intelligence.

Macozoma told the Mail and Guardian, "It is correct they did survey me. I found out because it was an overt, in your face kind of thing. I complained to the minister and he confirmed it was the NIA that was involved."

Macozoma is considered part of the President Thabo Mbeki's inner circle and is seen to wield considerable influence over who his replacement will be when the president steps down from the ANC in 2007 and as president in 2009.

Jacob Zuma, former deputy president, was considered the natural successor to Mbeki but was fired in June and charged with corruption. Despite this, he retains his position as deputy president of the ANC and continues to hold widespread support.

The Congress of South African Trade Unions, the South African Communist Party and the African National Congress Youth League have all charged that Zuma was fired to block his chances of becoming president.