PARLIAMENT - President Cyril Ramaphosa on Tuesday refused to be drawn on why he shifted South Africa's former chief spook Arthur Fraser to another government post despite allegations that he intimidated and interfered in the work of the country's intelligence watchdog.
During his quarterly appearance in the National Assembly to answer questions from Members of Parliament (MPs), Ramaphosa said he would soon announce a review panel to look into the state of the country's intelligence services, including the SA Police Service (SAPS) crime intelligence and the State Security Agency (SSA), which Fraser headed before being moved to correctional services as its director general.
The question of why Fraser was moved instead of ousted would however, be answered in court since the country's main opposition party, Democratic Alliance (DA), has initiated court proceedings against the President.
"They decided to go to court so the matter is now before the courts and much as I would have wanted to engage Mr [Mmusi] Maimane [DA leader], I have found that I now have to respond to the papers that they have launched in court which we are going to do...," said Ramaphosa, adding the matter involved sensitive information involving national security.
"We will be able to provide that answer through those court cases and as they say the matter is now sub judice."
Fraser was moved last month after Inspector General of Intelligence (IGI) Setlhomamaru Dintwe brought an urgent interdict to ask the Gauteng North High Court to bar Fraser from interfering with his duties.
Dintwe claimed Fraser had allegedly sought to revoke his security clearance and had interfered with his functions while he was investigating a complaint lodged against the former spy boss.
Dintwe made other shocking claims that Fraser had been obstructing the functioning of his office in order to stop the watchdog body from investigating serious allegations against him, saying in court papers that he had been repeatedly intimidated to the point where he feared for his personal safety.
Fraser has allegedly abused state security funds, according to claims in journalist Jacques Pauw's book 'The President's Keepers', which outlines former president Jacob Zuma's alleged abuse of intelligence structures to safeguard his political power.
Both the SSA and police crime intelligence have come under the spotlight over alleged corruption and other wrongdoing, something Ramaphosa said the review panel would look into.
"They will be able to go to the depth of some of the shortcomings, some of the challenges and problems that this agency faces and indeed....will go into the mandate of the intelligence service as per our Constitution and it will go into its capability."
Both the SSA and SA Police Service crime intelligence has been beset by allegations of corruption, political interference, and other acts of wrongdoing, something Ramaphosa said the review panel would attempt to fix.
"They [panel] will be able to go to the depth of some of the shortcomings, some of the challenges and problems that this agency faces and indeed....will go into the mandate of the intelligence service as per our Constitution and it will go into its capability," the President said.
"The guarantee I can give you is that as we do a reform process of all these institutions, we are going to keep an eye on what is set out in our Constitution and what is in the interest of the people of South Africa with regard to securing them."
African News Agency/ANA