Former president Jacob Zuma at the Zondo Commission of Inquiry into State Capture. File photo: Simphiwe Mbokazi African News Agency (ANA)
Former president Jacob Zuma at the Zondo Commission of Inquiry into State Capture. File photo: Simphiwe Mbokazi African News Agency (ANA)

#StateCaptureInquiry: Jacob Zuma’s spy claims open Pandora’s Box

By Sifiso Mahlangu and Samkelo Mtshali Time of article published Jul 21, 2019

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Johannesburg - The ANC’s skeletons were laid bare this week as former president Jacob Zuma made his appearance before the Judicial Commission of Inquiry into Allegations of State Capture.

In a week that seemed to divide the ANC further in a contest between the “exiles and inxiles”, Zuma levelled spy allegations against two senior ANC figures - former minister of mineral resources Ngoako Ramatlhodi and former SANDF general Siphiwe Nyanda.

Sources revealed to Independent Media that a meeting facilitated by the leadership of Umkhonto we Sizwe Military Veterans Association (MKVA) would sit on Sunday night to reveal the spy networks in the ANC. The meeting is set to get the ball rolling in investigating the spy networks in exile.

“We will put our evidence together on who sold us out in the Struggle and present the findings to the NEC (national executive committee),” the source said.

Political analyst Thando Dotyeni said the information would split the ANC: “The accusation of being a spy is very serious. What this group are saying is that they’re preparing to open a box of many secrets, and the ANC cannot afford that.”

Secretary-general Ace Magashule said the ANC was concerned about Zuma’s allegations.

“We must investigate the comments We have always known that there were spies or informers in the Struggle. We must find out who they are. Whether it is Magashule or Ramaphosa, we must find out.”

For years, Zuma has threatened to spill the beans in a tell-all book but on Monday he flipped the script.

He told the commission a 30-year smear campaign against him, headed by at least two international organisations and an apartheid-era intelligence agency, had led him to be perceived as the king of corrupt people.

In his testimony before the commission last year, Ramatlhodi accused Zuma of auctioning executive authority and said Zuma’s successor would step into an empty office.

On Monday, Zuma launched a verbal volley that left the nation stunned when he said: “He (Ramatlhodi) was recruited when he was a student in Lesotho to be a spy. He finds it very comfortable to come here and say I have auctioned off the country but I’ve known for years what he is, but I’ve never shown it.”

Ramatlhodi dismissed Zuma’s claims and challenged him to a lie detector test.

Zuma said Nyanda had links to the apartheid intelligence services during the Struggle.

Nyanda too dismissed the allegations, which he said came from a bitter and twisted old man.

Zuma’s allegations are an unwanted curve-ball for the ANC and could either make the party self-implode or, as some of its veterans believe, veer back on the path towards internal cleansing of all those alleged to have collaborated with the apartheid state.

The MKMVA expressed concern about the spy allegations as it had lost soldiers in the battle with the apartheid government.

MKMVA national executive committee member Mabel Rweqana believes Zuma’s testimony, because more than 100 soldiers died under the belief that they were sold out.

A video of an MKMVA soldier storming the Luthuli House media centre, telling Nyanda that he sold the body out has caused more tension and fuelled rumours of a spy network operating clandestinely within the ranks of the 107-year-old liberation movement.

She said Zuma remained mum for so long because he didn’t want to ruin the party.

“This thing was going to destroy the ANC and today, we would be talking about a non-existent ANC but because Zuma had the love of the ANC, he couldn’t tell anybody.

“These people pushed Zuma into a corner so much so that he could no longer stomach it,” Rweqana said.

With the MKMVA calling for the ANC to institute a commission probing the allegations, the spotlight is on the ANC to find out how many others within its ranks were spies.

Rweqana said the claims did not stop with Ramatlhodi and Nyanda; there were many who were not exposed and were operating clandestinely within the ruling party.

She said exposing them would not signal the ANC’s demise.

“Those are the people who are destroying the organisation; we are watching them destroy the organisation. People must be told the truth.”

Rweqana said there was no way the ANC could be led by a person who collaborated with the apartheid system.

MKMVA leader Kebby Maphatsoe said the spy allegations should be taken seriously because Zuma wouldn’t have made them for the fun of it.

“He has been pushed too much, to the extent that he feels isolated. It’s as if his organisation does not like him.”

Maphatsoe said Zuma, as an intelligence operative, had kept the lid on the allegations because he was keeping a promise not to expose them and because many ANC members who had been spies had repented and worked well within the ANC.

“But there are those who have not yet repented, there are those who hate president Zuma and there are those who are angry.

“If you check the people who went to the Zondo Commission and made allegations against Zuma, they are people who wanted to ventilate their anger and their hatred against Zuma.”

He said it formed part of the foreign agencies’ agenda to conspire against him, as Zuma had mentioned.

“The best thing for the ANC is to sit down with comrade Zuma, just to give him that respect to say ‘let’s sit down, comrade. What it is that has made you so angry that you are even now spilling the beans’, because this thing has the potential of creating mistrust.”

Maphatsoe said Ramatlhodi could have opted to sue Zuma instead of calling for a lie detector “which you know you have been trained how to respond to”.

Staunch Zuma backer Des van Rooyen, also an MKMVA leader and former cabinet minister under Zuma, said it would not be helpful to ignore the allegations as it would mean the continued occupation of leadership and strategic positions by people who betrayed their cause.

“Any revolutionary would be concerned that’s why we are saying that sweeping the allegations under the carpet won’t help because we’d be failing those who died, those who were in prison, those who were maimed, those who lost their loved ones as a result of that revolution we waged.”

Van Rooyen said the claims should not be taken lightly because the country’s freedom was not handed over on a silver platter - many people lost their lives.

Ramatlhodi said he would not be suing Zuma.

Political Bureau

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