'No political interference' with spy tapes, says Kasrils
Former intelligence minister Ronnie Kasrils has defended his involvement in the decision not to charge Jacob Zuma ahead of the 2007 ANC Polokwane conference, the Sunday Times reported.
“It was not political interference whatsoever,” Kasrils told the newspaper in an interview.
His comments came in wake of the release of the so-called spy tapes – a series of recorded phone conversations allegedly revealing collusion between the former head of the Directorate of Special Operations (the now defunct Scorpions) Leonard McCarthy, and the NPA’s former head Bulelani Ngcuka, to manipulate the prosecutorial process before the ANC’s Polokwane conference in 2007. At the time, Zuma was facing the possibility of being charged with corruption.
Kasrils is apparently heard on the tapes in discussion with McCarthy.
“I as the minister of intelligence had a professional relationship with him [McCarthy]; given his position, and all he wanted to ask me was, politically speaking, would it be wise to arrest Zuma on his way to Polokwane.”
Kasrils said that at the time, he had made it clear that he would not comment on whether Zuma should be charged or not.
However, he did advise that prosecutors would be “crazy” to arrest Zuma in the suggested context.
“The guy [McCarthy] was asking me for a political view”.
Kasrils said that if Zuma had been arrested at that time there would have been “blood on the floor”.
“It would have had huge riotous repercussions throughout the country.”
Asked by the Sunday Times if this meant Kasrils believed Zuma was too popular at the time to be charged, the former minister replied “in a sense, certainly”.
Zuma was elected ANC president at the conference. Former president Thabo Mbeki had been a contender for another term.
The charges were dropped shortly before Zuma was sworn in as president in 2009. Then acting National Director of Public Prosecutions, Mokotedi Mpshe, said the tapes showed there was a political conspiracy against Zuma and so the case against him could not continue.
Earlier this month, the spy tapes were handed over to the Democratic Alliance after the Supreme Court of Appeal ruled that the NPA had to comply with a previous order to release the tapes.
President Jacob Zuma opposed the move.
Since listening to the tapes, DA leader Helen Zille has said there is “sufficient evidence” on the recordings for a review application of the decision to withdraw corruption charges against Zuma.
On Sunday, Kasrils said he was “absolutely delighted” the tapes had been released.