Madonsela and SA's most paranoid CIA conspiracy theories

Deputy Defence Minister Kebby Maphatsoe has 'exposed' public protector Thuli Madonsela as a covert CIA operative. (David Harrison, M&G)

Deputy Defence Minister Kebby Maphatsoe has 'exposed' public protector Thuli Madonsela as a covert CIA operative. (David Harrison, M&G)

To the average conspiracy theorist, the news that public protector Thuli Madonsela is a CIA agent must come as a surprise.

Evidently, having assassinated all manner of leaders in the free world, faked a moon landing and covered up an alien spaceship landing at Roswell, the United States’s Central Intelligence Agency has softened its touch: lately, it appears to prefer funding counter-revolutionaries instead of just engineering their demise.

It was in Soweto at the weekend that Deputy Defence Minister Kebby Maphatsoe first “exposed” Madonsela as a covert operative, working to destabilise the state.

A mini-diplomatic row ensued on Twitter, with US ambassador to South Africa Patrick Gaspard calling the remarks “baseless”. Gaspard said he would complain officially through diplomatic channels.

Calls from around the political establishment sought to vilify Maphatsoe, with calls for his resignation and for him to provide proof of his statements or withdraw them.

The Democratic Alliance said he would be called before the portfolio committee on justice and correctional services to account for his statements.

The ANC said the statements were “unfortunate”, but added that it had no other information on the issue.

CIA theories
A cursory Google search might have assisted the party in that regard. The internet abounds with theories about the CIA meddling in South African affairs.

(Disclaimer: the Mail & Guardian might be funded by the CIA, according to Independent News and Media chairperson Iqbal Survé.)

On Sunday, the South African Communist Party (SACP) “exposed” the fact that the CIA funds the Dalai Lama, of all peace-loving beings.

“The SACP also stands opposed to the Dalai Lama’s agenda to use the political prestige of visiting South Africa to try and legitimate his secessionist agenda. The Dalai Lama has recently acknowledged that in the 1960s he was covertly being funded by the CIA, basically in pursuance of this agenda, and had led an unsuccessful, violent revolt in Tibet,” said party spokesperson Alex Mashilo.

“It is a fact that, contrary to ideological claims by his supporters and the opposition parties, the Dalai Lama’s hands and history are not clean!”

US-backed fronts
In May 2013, in the midst of the battle between Cosatu general secretary Zwelinzima Vavi and his adversaries within the trade union, an “intelligence report” surfaced that ostensibly “exposed” US state department-backed fronts. These fronts were purported to fund all manner of oppositionist forces: political parties, trade unions not loyal to the federation and even cross-border destabilisation initiatives.

Then, in 2007, Julius Malema and other ANC leaders reportedly met with US embassy officials. His remarks would startle supporters of his present leanings. According to a Wikileaks cable, Malema briefed the embassy officials on the Polokwane battle, alliances favouring Jacob Zuma and the probability of Thabo Mbeki losing.

He said the ANC Youth League had only backed Zuma because “Mbeki came after him” and rejected the possibility of the ANC being ready for a woman president.

Unsurprisingly, given the trend demonstrated thus far, news of the briefing led to speculation that the young lion himself was operating on the CIA’s behalf.

The local intelligence community must have been relieved to discover that the CIA had softened its tactics compared with what it was accused of during apartheid. This includes “brainwashing” the man who stabbed prime minister HF Verwoerd to death, Dimitri Tsafendas. This was allegedly done through the CIA’s human research programme, “”MK Ultra”.

Incurable disease
But here’s where the conspiracy theories get really absurd. The deep, dark internet has it that the CIA, having dispensed with its meddling in the apartheid regime, swiftly moved on to its next pet project: the creation of HIV.

Actually, the creation of HIV and an independent corruption-fighting unit: the Scorpions.

It is not clear why the CIA thought it would be necessary to create an independent body to police corruption if its real agenda was to wipe out sub-Saharan Africa with an incurable disease.

But it was alleged during public hearings into the disbandment of the Scorpions that the CIA was working with British intelligence to engineer the African apocalypse.

Sam Kikine, the head of the International Traditional and Medicine Research Council, reportedly made this accusation at one such hearing in Durban: “Why have the Scorpions not investigated Wouter Basson and the CIA, who have created this Aids? The Scorpions are working for MI5 and the CIA, and not for South Africa.”

Osama bin Laden
This should not come as a surprise to anyone who believed US senator Rand Paul’s claims that the CIA funded Osama bin Laden during the Afghan war with the Soviets in the 1980s.

The CIA and Bin Laden denied this idea.

Of course, the CIA might have been slightly distracted at the time, so its denials are perhaps slightly untrustworthy. For at the time it was fighting off accusations that it was behind the capture of Nelson Mandela in 1962.

In January this year, a US PhD student went to court in an attempt to get the CIA to admit that it tipped off the apartheid state about Mandela’s whereabouts at the time of his arrest.

As with most of the allegations the internet churns out, the jury on the CIA’s involvement is still out.

Sarah Evans

Sarah Evans

Sarah Evans interned at the Diamond Fields Advertiser in Kimberley for three years before completing an internship at the Mail & Guardian Centre for Investigative Journalism (amaBhungane). She went on to work as a Mail & Guardian news reporter with areas of interest including crime, law, governance and the nexus between business and politics.  Read more from Sarah Evans


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