NIA criticises cooperation over Browse Mole report
The National Intelligence Agency (NIA) has identified the main source of the Special Browse Mole Report, but is still waiting for the Directorate of Special Operations (DSO, or Scorpions) to provide such source in terms of a cooperation agreement, NIA deputy director general for operations Arthur Fraser told the hearing into prosecutions boss Vusi Pikoli’s fitness to hold office.
“To date, the DSO has not provided us [with] that name. We know who he is,” said Fraser.
Fraser explained that they needed the identity of the principal and other sources of the report, which claimed foreign funding to bring African National Congress president Jacob Zuma to power.
The hearing has heard that Pikoli kept an interim copy of the report, based on an investigation by the DSO, for about four months after being advised by former Scorpions boss Leonard McCarthy that it was not complete.
The NIA believes Pikoli should have given the report to it immediately in the interests of national security, and that the DSO should not have had contact with foreign intelligence in the first place.
The NIA needed the information to make a full presentation to President Thabo Mbeki on the matter.
It also had concerns that the report may have been compiled by foreign “information peddlers”.
“We believed they had been duped by peddlers,” said Fraser.
On Monday, NIA director general Manala Manzini said that the NPA had not cooperated with the NIA during this investigation.
Earlier on Tuesday, Manzini questioned McCarthy’s claim that at first he did not know who provided information for the Browse report.
Manzini said this was questionable given that informants and sources were strictly administered to prevent abuse of state resources.
He was responding to a letter from McCarthy to Manzini regarding an investigation into the source of the report, read to him by Pikoli’s advocate, Wim Trengove.
In the letter, McCarthy said he had only found out the identity of the sources on June 16/17 2006 and would provide their identities provided they were not disclosed.
One of the informants said he did not want his identity revealed and would only speak to the president if it was necessary to interview him, the letter continued.
“Registration of informants is a controlled activity which takes place at the high levels to prevent abuse of state resources,” countered Manzini.
“It is revealing that the head [of the DSO] can say he had no knowledge of his sources.”
He added: “We still have to ask: What resources were used to produce the product called Browse?”
Manzini said that even though the letter looked like the cooperation the NIA had asked for from the National Prosecuting Authority, they had received very little assistance.
Earlier, Manzini declined to answer questions relating to concerns about interaction with Pikoli’s counterpart in Malawi on their investigation into a plot to overthrow that government.
He felt that out of respect for Malawi as a sovereign state and because that matter was before the courts, it should be discussed in camera.
This part of the inquiry deals with whether Pikoli’s office dealt with matters considered by the NIA to be out of the NPA’s mandate.
“We will show a litany of several other contacts that were taking place,” said Manzini.
Inquiry chairperson Frene Ginwala said she would decide on the in-camera ruling later.
Trip to Rugby World Cup
McCarthy’s trip to the Rugby World Cup last year while Mbeki was waiting for information on the report was questioned by Fraser.
The NIA believed they were not getting full cooperation from the NPA on the matter, and so Pikoli was asked to get McCarthy to cooperate.
Pikoli did so, but, said Fraser: “Subsequent to that briefing Mr McCarthy went to the World Cup whilst the president was waiting [for a report on Browse].”
Fraser said in the environment he worked in, his boss would be held accountable for something he had failed to do.
Ginwala said that she did not intend calling McCarthy, who has taken up a position at the World Bank, to the inquiry.—Sapa