DA seeks access to spy-tapes report

The Democratic Alliance (DA) will on Tuesday launch a formal application for access to a secret report on how spy tapes were passed on to lawyers defending President Jacob Zuma against criminal charges, clearing his way to the presidency.

DA chief whip Ian Davidson said he planned to invoke the Promotion of Access to Information Act to obtain a copy of the report by the Inspector General for Intelligence (IGI), after it emerged it would not be released.

The decision not to disclose meant the nation would remain in the dark on how illegally taped phone conversations came into the possession of Michael Hulley, Zuma’s attorney, arguably changing the course of South African history.

Case compromised
The emergence of the tapes prompted the National Prosecuting Authority (NPA) to withdraw fraud and corruption charges against Zuma on the eve of national elections, on the basis that selectively released extracts from the tapes hinted at political meddling, which compromised the case against the African National Congress leader.

“We as the public have never been privy to knowing precisely why the corruption charges against President Zuma were dropped,” Davidson said.

“The fact that the IGI and Parliament’s joint standing committee on intelligence [JSCI] have chosen not to make this report public is a sad reflection on the state of our democracy. Information that is in the public interest has an unfortunate tendency to be suppressed, more in the interests of protecting powerful individuals instead of legitimate threats to our national security.”

He said the very existence of the tapes pointed to “the existence of a state within a state”, and the abuse of mechanisms designed to protect South African citizens to promote the agenda of private individuals.

Furthermore, information such as that surrounding Zuma’s case should only be withheld if it were to compromise national security.

“There are no such factors at play in this case,” he said. “In fact, the very principle of full accountability from the highest levels of government downwards acts as a motivating force to release this report.”

Report not released
The IGI’s report was presented to the JSCI last year. Committee chairperson Cecil Burgess has said it has completed its work on the report and saw no need to release it.

The Cape Times reported on Monday that a source who had seen the report said it had found the police’s criminal intelligence division responsible for leaking at least one set of the recordings to Zuma’s legal team.

However, the IGI stopped short of finding any individuals guilty of wrongdoing.

The tapes contained intercepted phone conversations between former NPA chief Bulelani Ngcuka and the head of the now defunct Scorpions, Leonard McCarthy. — Sapa

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