Mo appointment angers opposition parties

The appointment of Mo Shaik as Secret Service head on Friday raised the ire of several political parties with some saying the president's close ally got the position as a reward for being loyal to the ruling party.

"This appointment has clearly been made to consolidate the Zuma faction's hold over the South African intelligence community," said Democratic Alliance MP Theo Coetzee in a statement.

He said it was inappropriate for the president's close personal friend and brother of the man convicted for his "generally corrupt relationship" with the President to be appointed to such a senior post in the intelligence.

But State Security Minister Siyabonga Cwele said Shaik was appointed because of his vast experience in intelligence matters.

"He served in the international underground structures of the ANC in Natal. His duties involved collection and analysis of intelligence at the coal face," said Cwele during the announcement in Pretoria.

Shaik was SA Consul General in 1998 and become the ambassador to the Democratic People's Republic of Algeria.

Between 2003 and 2004, he worked as special adviser to the minister of foreign affairs and head of policy research unit.

Shaik is known to be a close associate of President Jacob Zuma and is said to have played a key role in his campaigning for ANC president, hence opposition parties have labelled his appointment "payback" for the work he has done for the ruling party.

Shaik's brother, Schabir, is the president's former financial adviser.

Schabir was released on medical parole in March this year - shortly before Zuma was elected president - after serving two years and four months of his 15-year prison term.

Congress of the People spokesman Phillip Dexter said Shaik's appointment was concerning as he had proved himself to be an unprofessional person.

"Shaik has distinguished himself as being unprofessional, partisan and has even breached state security by releasing classified information to the public during the Hefer Commission.

"That President Zuma can so blatantly reward the loyalty of Shaik with this appointment bodes nothing but ill for our democracy," Dexter said.

Echoing Dexter's statement, FF Plus MP Pieter Groenewald said the appointment of Shaik, who has served in the ANC's international underground structures, "is further proof that loyal political supporters are still being appointed to top positions by the ANC leadership".

He said the Shaik the appointment should have been avoided due to the "controversial family ties his family has with Zuma".

"In the Secret Service industry, controversy should always be avoided and Shaik's appointment is controversial per se," Groenewald said.

The secret service is charged with gathering intelligence, including military intelligence, beyond South Africa's borders and identify any potential threats to the country.

Other appointments made by Cwele on Friday were that of head of the National Intelligence Agency (NIA) and director general of the State Security Agency (SSA)

Lizo Gibson Njenje was appointed NIA boss while Mzuvukile Jeff Maqetuka was appointed director general of the SSA.

The state security agency was formed after NIA and the SA Secret Service were restructured into single department.

Cwele said the creation of a single department would centralised command and control of the intelligence structures.

However NIA and the SA Secret Service will continue to operate in terms of its mandate, each with its own head of services. - Sapa