It is a common trait among intelligence professionals the world over that they work in the dark of secrecy … and when it comes to matters of real state security, that attitude is understandable.
After all, a nation’s enemies should not have access to information which they could turn to their advantage.
But, that commitment to the cloak-and-dagger, undercover world has meant that many, many acts of malfeasance have been carried out well away from the public eye.
Nevertheless, it has been shocking (and we mean that in its real sense, not in the often seemingly insincere way it is used by our politicians) to hear this week that our country’s “spooks” were an integral part of the state capture project.
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When Jacob Zuma got control of the levers of power as president, he ensured that, as happened when he ran the ANC’s underground intelligence organisation, the national intelligence operation was geared to working for him in pursuing his factional agenda within the ANC.
According to former minister Sydney Mufamadi, this included regular under-the-table payments to Zuma, which started off at R2.5 million a month and escalated to R4.5 million a month.
In addition, millions were spent on undercover operations against opponents of the Zuma faction.
Another nefarious plot was to allocate secret money to bribe members of the judiciary to ensure Zuma and his henchmen (and women) remained well insulated from accountability.
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Evidence before the Commission of Inquiry into State Capture shows that measures have been taken to repair some of the damage done to the intelligence community by what was, effectively, a coup.
However, in addition to the need to bring the full force of the law to bear on those who acted illegally and against the constitution, there must be a full probe into the whole “spook” community.
This must not be allowed to happen again.
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