/ 27 March 2006

Masetlha facing arrest over ongoing e-mail saga

South Africa’s ruling African National Congress will convene a special meeting of its national executive committee (NEC) solely to address the conclusions contained in the Inspector General (IG) of Intelligence’s report on the ongoing fraudulent e-mail scandal, according to ANC spokesperson Smuts Ngonyama.

The news comes amidst media reports that the government is finalising its moves to arrest former head of the National Intelligence Agency (NIA) Billy Masetlha on charges of sedition and fraud relating to his involvement in the fabrication of e-mails by the NIA.

He was implicated in the scandal by the IG’s report, released last week, in which e-mails purportedly sent by top ANC officials attempted to smear the reputations of party deputy president Jacob Zuma and party secretary general Kgalema Motlanthle.

In a statement issued on Monday morning, Ngonyama said that, as part of the NEC’s meetings held over the weekend in Ekurhuleni, the party’s national executive had decided to hold another special meeting to discuss the matter “without undue delay”.

The e-mails have further widened the divide in the ANC, with the next meeting expected to help bridge differences between NEC members.

At the weekend meeting, the NEC had reiterated the decision of its November 18-20 meeting, which was that none of the members of the NEC referred to in the alleged electronic correspondence was involved in the smear campaigns.

It also noted the IG’s report, which confirmed this non-involvement, and mandated the ANC National Working Committee to put in place a mechanism to address the matter in so far as it affected the ANC.

On Monday, Business Day reported that the Masetlha looks set to challenge Mbeki over his dismissal.

“Sources said the show of force by the state seemed calculated to pre-empt moves by Masetlha to challenge his axing. It is understood lawyers acting for the former spymaster will launch a High Court application today [Monday] opposing his dismissal,” reported Business Day.

“This is likely to increase tensions between Masetlha and his boss, and heighten the division in the ANC as the party scrambles to contain the political fallout from the saga,” continued Business Day. — I-Net Bridge