Get more Mail & Guardian
Subscribe or Login

RECAP: New allegations of how the former head of the ANC, the party and others benefited from the SSA

During the Zuma era, the State Security Agency (SSA) fought factional battles in the ANC, provided covert election support to the governing party and served the personality cult of the president to the point of unlawfully detaining one of his spouses suspected of poisoning him.

This emerged from testimony before the Zondo commission from the acting director general of the SSA, Loyiso Jafta, who recounted that the agency had lost R9-billion in assets without a record, because proper controls were routinely disregarded.

The sum left Deputy Chief Justice Raymond Zondo aghast. 

Jafta added that the entity’s losses included firearms, some of which remained missing despite scrupulous attempts at recovery. The fear that these may have been used to commit crimes caused him considerable anxiety, he added. “It would again be one of those abuses of due process and assets,” he said. 

Jafta said there were times between 2009 and early 2018 when Zuma was in office, that state security ministers had directly managed projects — a situation he termed “inherently unlawful”, because the executive may not involve itself in intelligence operations.

“There is evidence, certainly presented to me, where members of the national executive or at least the ministers responsible, regularly ran operations,” he said. 

“That would mean they handled sources, they tasked them, they will debrief them, they must obviously generate reports, analyse and do all the processes that are done in the intelligence cycle — and then possibly advise themselves, because they are in the policy area, and possibly advise the president and or their colleagues,” Jafta said. “There is no question in my mind that this did happen.”

The ministers who held the state security portfolio under Zuma were Siyabonga Cwele, David Mahlobo and Bongani Bongo.  

Jafta did not implicate any of them by name and said he believed this executive overreach level was not limited to the SSA, but played itself out in parallel at state-owned enterprises.

Jafta was appointed in 2018 after Zuma was forced to resign, and his testimony corroborated that given on Monday by former minister Sydney Mufamadi, who headed a review panel appointed to probe abuses in the intelligence service.

‘Project Justice’

But whereas Mufamadi said he had no evidence that the SSA bribed judges, as planned in an operation code-named “Project Justice”, Jafta suggested there was circumstantial evidence that at least one judge received the money.

Incontrovertible proof was hard to obtain, he added, because bribes were customarily paid in cash. He said an investigation into the matter was ongoing and the judge would eventually be questioned. 

Jafta was unequivocal that money had flowed to some quarters of the ANC as the SSA was instrumentalised in factional hostilities. 

“There are monies that left the agency for the purpose of funding political activity, principally within the African National Congress, and often when you read into it, [it] is not funding the African National Congress credibly, it is to fund activities of a particular faction within the African National Congress,” he testified.

At times, this would translate into running smear campaigns against rivals within the governing party.

As he detailed how this unfolded, Zondo asked Jafta to state which head of state he meant, so there could be no confusion. Jafta did so and said he believed Zuma might not directly have ordered the transgressions, or been aware of them, but that it could have been a case of operatives breaking the rules in a bid to please him.

Jafta also told the commission that intelligence funding was subverted to boost the ANC’s performance in elections.

In the Western Cape, this involved nongovernmental organisations being given covert support to shift the political landscape ahead of polls. And in the platinum belt in North West and Limpopo, the money was to fund “an alternative union” when the Association of Mineworkers and Construction Union was drawing support away from the National Union of Mineworkers.

The Zondo commission has been hearing evidence on events at the SSA, with a witness identified only as “K” taking the stand.

Subscribe to the M&G

Thanks for enjoying the Mail & Guardian, we’re proud of our 36 year history, throughout which we have delivered to readers the most important, unbiased stories in South Africa. Good journalism costs, though, and right from our very first edition we’ve relied on reader subscriptions to protect our independence.

Digital subscribers get access to all of our award-winning journalism, including premium features, as well as exclusive events, newsletters, webinars and the cryptic crossword. Click here to find out how to join them and receive a 40% discount on our annual rate..

Related stories


Subscribers only

Wild garlic harvesters back in court

Healers say the plant is part of their heritage, but officials counter that it is a protected species

Oil boom may be the industry’s last hurrah

Biggest players in the game show signs of recovery but a low-carbon future may threaten fossil fuel

More top stories

Africa’s national airlines face troubled skies

The continent’s aviation industry won’t survive unless countries start cooperating with each other

Wildlife owners may target state

South Africa has about 350 facilities with 8 000 to 12 000 lions bred in captivity for commercial use in cub petting, canned hunting and the lion bone and other body parts trade.

Noise pollution affects plants and their pollinators

A study of piñon and juniper show that regular exposure to loud sounds affect plants’ growth while birds dispersing seeds move away

EU-banned pesticides are harming farmworkers in SA

The department does not even have a list of registered pesticides, a damning report finds

press releases

Loading latest Press Releases…