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Intelligence structure changes under Zuma led to abuse of service - Shaik

Mo Shaik took the stand at the state capture commission of inquiry on Monday, where he spent the morning discussing the legislation which underpinned the creation and set the mandate for the intelligence services.

A screengrab of the former head of the State Security Agency’s foreign branch Mo Shaik testifying at the state capture commission of inquiry in Johannesburg on 25 November 2019.

TSHWANE - Former head of the State Security Agency’s (SSA) foreign branch Mo Shaik testified that the structural changes to the intelligence services and the creation of the SSA under former President Jacob Zuma led to the breakdown and abuse within these services.

Shaik took the stand at the state capture commission of inquiry on Monday, where he spent the morning discussing the legislation which underpinned the creation and set the mandate for the intelligence services.

Zuma removed him as the head of the South African Secret Service together with the former head of the National Intelligence Agency Gibson Njenje in 2011 when they proposed an investigation of the Guptas' influence on government.

Shaik said in 2010, Zuma created the SSA whose officials reported directly to a minister as opposed to Parliament.

“So now we’ve gone back to a situation where each intelligence service, whether the civilian intelligence service, the police or military can see that you are starting to see the breakdown of the coordination, which is what the Constitution intended.”

He said this lack of co-ordination led to a decline in the intelligence services' ability to properly function.

“You would have in the intelligence world, everyone recruiting the same source, and in my opinion, it has given rise to the entrenchment of the phenomenon of disinformation, information peddlers and bogus informants,” Shaik said.

GUPTAS’ ‘BREACH’ OF NATIONAL SECURITY

Meanwhile, Shaik said Minister Fikile Mbalula’s claim that he was informed of his pending appointment to the sports ministry by the Gupta brothers had prompted the decision to investigate the controversial family.

He said concerns were raised in 2011 when Mbalula told an African National Congress national executive committee meeting that he was tipped off by the Guptas about his pending appointment to the sports portfolio.

“Our was concern was that this was either a breach of national security occurring in the office of the president, or it was possible because the Guptas overheard this discussion while the president was in consultation with someone, or thirdly, did they in fact actually suggest this appointment, which makes this even more serious,” he said.

Shaik said he consulted with other senior officials and decided that the Guptas would be the subject of an intelligence investigation.

“It will involve technological intelligence, surveillance, penetration, and having a full understanding of the whole picture – to answer those questions because it pertained to the breach of national security at the highest level of the government,” Shaik said.

Former State Security Minister Siyabonga Cwele had put an end to that investigation.

WATCH: Mo Shaik testifies at state capture inquiry