/ 16 March 2009

DA calls for probe into Cwele, drug allegations

Never slow to take advantage of a twist in the news, the Democratic Alliance (DA) has charged into the situation surrounding the allegations of involvement in drug-smuggling made against the wife of the new Minister for Intelligence, Siyabonga Cwele.

DA chief whip Ian Davidson called on Monday for the president to set up an independent inquiry, separate from the police inquiry, to probe suggestions of possible misconduct by the minister and corruption within the Department of Intelligence.

Davidson also called on the president to suspend the minister ”if there is credible evidence that he has failed to act or suppressed attempts at pursuing the matter”.

”An independent inquiry would need to clarify whether the National Intelligence Agency (NIA) knew about the alleged involvement of Sheryl Cwele in assisting an international drug-trafficking operation, and, if they did, why there was no subsequent investigation,” Davidson said.

”Indeed, if either the minister or members of his department were aware of this matter, then they have potentially committed a criminal act simply by not pursuing it, and if there is good evidence that the minister was aware of what was going on, then we call on the president to suspend him.”

Davidson said that it is difficult to believe the minister of intelligence would not have been aware of his wife’s alleged involvement in these illegal activities, but if this is the case then other serious questions will inevitably be raised about the effectiveness of the NIA.

”The implication is that journalists from a Sunday newspaper are able to uncover an international drug-trafficking scandal of which the NIA was unaware, even though these events have been right on the doorstep of the intelligence-gathering community,” he said.

”That is difficult to believe — but if it is the case, it points to systematic flaws in the intelligence-gathering capability of the NIA. This further underscores the urgent need for an inquiry.” — I-Net Bridge