Johannesburg - President Jacob Zuma does not need intelligence operatives to know that he needs to stay clear of business networks that used his name to advance their interests.
This was said on Monday by ANC insiders and political analyst Professor Somadoda Fikeni, who added that Zuma should have learnt from the damage caused by his fraudulent and corrupt relationship with his former business partner.
Durban businessman Schabir Shaik was sentenced to 15 years in jail in 2006.
This followed a Daily Maverick report on Monday that State Security Minister Siyabonga Cwele had forced out three former intelligence heads from their jobs two years ago after they warned him and Zuma that the Guptas posed a threat to the credibility and security of the state.
The report added that the former head of the state security domestic branch, Gibson Njenje, former foreign intelligence head Moe Shaik and former State Security Agency director-general Jeff Maqetuka were sanctioned for investigating the Guptas.
After his initial silence on the Gupta wedding plane saga, Zuma maintained his innocence on Monday. In an interview with the SABC, he said he had not authorised the landing of the Guptas’ civilian plane at the Waterkloof Air Force base, a national key point.
He added he had not even been aware that the Airbus A330-200 was going to land at Waterkloof.
The spokesman for the ministry in the Presidency responsible for performance monitoring and evaluation, Harold Maloka, referred enquiries to Government Communication and Information System acting chief executive Phumla Williams, who did not respond to calls or a text message.
Justice and Constitutional Development Ministry spokesman Mthunzi Mhaga’s phone also went unanswered.
Police Minister Nathi Mthethwa’s spokesman, Zweli Mnisi, referred enquiries about whether the 12 arrested police officers had appeared in court, to the SAPS.
Brigadier Phuti Setati’s cellphone was answered by an unidentified colleague, who claimed he was on the phone to police commissioner General Riah Phiyega. Setati also did not respond to SMSes or e-mails.
Unisa honorary professor Fikeni said “inter-penetration” between business, politics and government was the root cause of problems facing Zuma and the ANC.
“It is natural for business people to name-drop and use their proximity to the powers that be to advance their interests,” he added.
Sources said senior ANC leaders had privately complained that they had tried unsuccessfully to convince Zuma to stay away from questionable business figures since 2005.
Some cabinet ministers had privately complained that Zuma had reduced them to “clowns” who were expected to defend the indefensible - his personal relationship with the Guptas - the sources said.