NIA chief takes issue with Pikoli over Browse report
National Intelligence Agency (NIA) Director General Manala Manzini on Monday questioned why it took National Prosecuting Authority (NPA) head Vusi Pikoli months to hand over the so-called Special Browse Mole Consolidated Report, which he believed had serious national and foreign intelligence and security implications.
Manzini told the hearing into Pikoli’s fitness to hold office that the report, compiled by the Directorate of Special Operations (DSO), contained allegations that Angolan intelligence operatives were infiltrating South Africa’s intelligence network.
This alone had serious implications for South Africa’s foreign policy and foreign relations. The DSO had no authority to compile the report in the first place as their job was to gather evidence for prosecutions.
“Section seven of the National Prosecuting Authority Act states that they will conduct information-gathering in regard to evidence meant for prosecution,” he said.
They were “clearly” doing something else.
“They were running a political intelligence project as the Browse report will point out,” he said.
The document contained allegations that African National Congress president Jacob Zuma was receiving funds from Angola and Libya, facilitated by South African Communist Party secretary general Blade Nzimande, to start a street revolution that would oust President Thabo Mbeki and usher Zuma into the presidency.
By doing so (conducting the investigation), the DSO was encroaching on the terrain of the NIA and the South African Secret Service.
“Now surely we are talking about a structure that is supposed to be looking at organised crime,” he said. “I don’t know how they explain it, they cannot explain it.”
Manzini said that previous Scorpions (DSO) boss Leonard McCarthy had given Pikoli a “work in progress” version of the Browse report, but Pikoli had not read it as it was not the final version and did not contain recommendations.
Manzini said that given the report’s security implications, he would have expected him to deal with it with the “seriousness” it deserved.
He was given the draft in March 2006 and received the final report in July 2006.
At a meeting after a Cabinet lekgotla (meeting), he told Manzini that “I have got a hot potato”.
“He received the report in March, ignored it, and for him there are consequences for all those months. That information was with them and was not shared.”
He said that in terms of the law, Pikoli was required to hand over matters relating to national intelligence immediately.
“I don’t know what ‘immediately’ means to him. If it means four months after that, I don’t know.”
He said that with intelligence matters, “intelligence delayed is useless information”.
Pikoli was being “economical with the truth” in his affidavit by saying that he had given intelligence services the document.
Immediately after being given the report, Manzini set up a team to deal with it, but had not received cooperation from the National Prosecuting Authority on the matter.
“We have not received cooperation from the national director of public prosecutions [Pikoli] and the person he assigned to assist us,” Manzini said. He felt that some “measures” needed to be taken against those who produced the report.
The NDPP, through the DSO, had “violated the legal prescriptions in terms of working in the intelligence sphere”, said Manzini.
Pikoli was suspended last September on the grounds of a breakdown in his relationship with Minister of Justice and Constitutional Development Brigitte Mabandla.
He believes he was suspended because of the investigation into police National Commissioner Jackie Selebi.—Sapa