Former president Jacob Zuma accused Ngoako Ramatlhodi, the former minister of public service and administration, of being a spy in his testimony before the judicial commission into state capture on Monday.
Zuma was addressing the commission — chaired by Deputy Chief Justice Raymond Zondo — after being invited to tell his side of the story. He told a spellbound auditorium that when Ramatlhodi said before the commission that Zuma had “auctioned” South Africa’s executive authority to the Guptas, he was “carrying out an instruction”.
“He was recruited when he was a student in Lesotho to be a spy,” said Zuma.
Testifying before the Zondo commission in November last year, Ramatlhodi said: “He is talking nonsense. I am not afraid to be tested under a lie detector.” He added that Zuma should also be ready to be tested under a lie detector.
Zuma’s address to the Zondo commission began with Zuma saying that the accusations against him were the result of a decades-old conspiracy — by two foreign intelligence agencies and a South African one — to ensure that he leaves the ANC, because he knew who their spies were within the organisation’s ranks. At the end of his address he said that, as the commission proceeds, it was important to give this context so that the commission could “see the behaviour of people”.
On Ramatlhodi, Zuma said he had “known for years what he is”. But he had never said anything because “I thought he would change”.
He said Ramatlhodi was not the only one, mentioning others that had joined the group known as the “101 veterans”. He said that he did not want to reveal intelligence at the commission, but he had been “provoked to the end degree”.
Earlier, Zuma said that there had been a spy infiltrated into the ANC known as ‘Ralph’ or ‘Fear’, who operated in Swaziland which is now known as Eswatini. “Many comrades lost their lives because of the work of that person,” he said.
When the agent was finally arrested, he confessed, said Zuma, and asked to see Zuma. Zuma went to see him with the late ANC leader and former minister of intelligence Joe Nhlanhla, he said.
He said that agent knew a number of others. After he confessed, he was poisoned and died. “But he had given the list of spies. Because he knew them,” said Zuma.
“Yes, I’ve got the list. And I have other lists as well,” he said.