/ 12 March 2008

NPA: Parly ‘incorrect’ over Browse report

Parliament’s joint standing committee on intelligence came to ”incorrect conclusions” in its report on the so-called ”Special Browse Mole Consolidated Report” produced by the Scorpions, the National Prosecuting Authority (NPA) said on Wednesday.

”Whilst we respect the role of the committee, we contest its views and recommendations. We are concerned about the processes and procedures followed in this matter,” NPA spokesperson Tlali Tlali said in a statement.

”We therefore contend that it came to incorrect conclusions that the DSO [Scorpions] instituted an inquiry or considered a prosecution, used private intelligence companies, caused and condoned the leaking of the report, failed to cooperate with the task team and acted illegally.”

The NPA’s response to the committee comes two weeks after the release of a report accusing the Scorpions of producing the Browse Mole report illegally and in contravention of their mandate.

The report, released on February 26 by the committee, said the Scorpions fell prey to information peddlers, making use of informants and private intelligence companies to compile the document.

The 18-page Browse Mole top-secret document was leaked into the public domain in 2007.

It claimed that then-African National Congress deputy president Jacob Zuma was involved in a conspiracy to topple President Thabo Mbeki’s government.

The report outlines evidence that the Angolan intelligence establishment planned covertly to support Zuma in his presidency bid.

It also refers to a meeting of African leaders where possible military backing for Zuma was allegedly discussed, and reports on a meeting of former Umkhonto weSizwe veterans that apparently suggested that the local security establishment should support a pro-Zuma coup if necessary.

The document was leaked to Zuma’s supporters at the Congress of South African Trade Unions and seriously embarrassed the Scorpions and the government domestically and in Africa.

Tlali said the NPA would address the ”procedural and substantive aspects” of the report ”more comprehensively, through the appropriate medium”.

He said the NPA’s appearance in Parliament two weeks ago was a ”positive and affirming experience”, contrary to reports.

”We do, however, take the concerns of the justice portfolio committee seriously and will take immediate steps to improve prosecutions in marginalised areas, information management, public outreach and in measuring our performance,” he said.

Meanwhile, Tlali said the emergence of news on a poison-laced letter had caused ”undue alarm”.

He said while the experience was unpleasant, it was not the work of a professional and implications that the subjects of high-profile investigations may be responsible for sending it was ”far-fetched”.

”The NPA is in control of the situation and there is no need for either panic or hype,” he said. — Sapa