The director-general of the National Intelligence Agency, Gibson Njenje, has been forced out of his post in a crisis in the intelligence community also embroiling secret service boss Mo Shaik, Sunday newspapers reported.
The Sunday Independent quoted state security ministry spokesperson Brian Dube as saying Njenje had resigned, but the spy chief denied this.
“I have not resigned. Brian is not telling the truth,” he reportedly said.
“I am planning to go to work on Monday. I am in talks with the minister about things that I can’t talk about. But I am not aware that I have resigned.”
The M&G met Njenje in his Pretoria office last week, but he refused to answer most of the questions posed to him, leaving the task to Dube who was also present at the interview. Dube would neither deny nor confirm rumours that Njenje was on his way out of the NIA. All he would say was that Njenje was still at work now and was performing the tasks that he was expected to. Dube also denied any rift between Njenje, State Security Minister Siyabonga Cwele Cwele and President Jacob Zuma.
City Press reported that Cwele had asked Shaik and the head of the State Security Agency, Jeff Maqetuka, to quit, but said they had refused and sought legal advice.
According to the Sunday Independent, Njenje, Shaik and Maqetuka recently complained to Zuma about difficulty in their relationship with Cwele.
Njenje is reported to have been unhappy about “unauthorised” operations that flew in the face of his efforts to ensure that the NIA was not exploited for political purposes.
City Press said he was also unhappy about a decision to grant Cwele’s wife Cheryl full intelligence protection throughout her drug trafficking trial.
The ministry could not be reached for comment.
Njenje, who previously served as NIA head of operations, was suspended, along with former spy boss Billy Masetlha in 2005. This followed an investigation by the inspector general of intelligence, who found that he had acted inappropriately after taking part in the unauthorised surveillance of former ANC national executive committee member Saki Macozoma.
Njenje initially tried to challenge the suspension, but resigned after reaching a settlement with former intelligence minister Ronnie Kasrils in November 2005. Zuma’s decision to repay a political debt by appointing Njenje as boss of the NIA in 2009 caused unhappiness in some government and ANC quarters. – Sapa and Staff reporter