Intelligence Agents Haunt
DA criticises Public Protector's approach at hearings
ANC MP Andrew Feinstein verifies that he was approached by two
"intelligence agents" in the midst of government's offensive against
the first report on the R43,8bn arms deal by parliament's Select Committee on
Public Accounts (Scopa). One of the agents, the FM has since learnt, is a member
of a State intelligence service.
who served on Scopa as a senior ANC representative when its first report was
drafted, last week resigned as an MP in protest against government and ANC
interference in Scopa's inquiries.
declines to elaborate on the approaches, except to say he got the impression
that they were trying to ascertain whether he had information not contained in
the official report and, if so, to establish exactly what it was.
its own inquiries, however, the FM can disclose the identities of the two people
who sought to glean information from Feinstein as:
Millard, a former representative in the Gauteng Legislature and who is now
an investigator with the National Intelligence Agency; and
Christopher, the parliamentary security manager who reportedly identified
himself as an intelligence adviser to National Assembly Speaker Frene
Ginwala (who later became embroiled in the controversy over the arms deal).
information is that Millard requested Feinstein to co-operate with her and the
NIA by making available to them any information he might have obtained that was
not included in the Scopa report and to obtain his permission to approach Scopa
sources directly. "Subtle, she was not," a parliamentary observer
is reported to have offered Feinstein and Scopa chairman Gavin Woods
"protective surveillance" and volunteered to take sensitive documents
into his safekeeping. "Rather naive," is how his approach is
characterised by a strategically positioned interviewee.
regrets that it cannot reflect the views of Millard (there was no response to a
message left on the phone on her desk in the NIA's Pretoria headquarters) or
Christopher (who was on duty at the World Racism conference and whose cell-phone
was apparently switched off).
spokesman Helmut Schlenter says the NIA would have intervened only if it was
requested to do so by the Office of the Public Protector, the Auditor-General or
the Director of Public Prosecutions)
member of the Inkatha Freedom Party, is aware of the approaches to Feinstein. He
recalls that he, too, was approached on two occasions, once by a man who
identified himself as a representative of "ANC intelligence" and once
by a man from "the Department of Intelligence". Both made a strong
"call on patriotism" in their pleas for "an understanding"
to help them get the big picture.
was some monitoring of Andrew and myself," Woods says. "I was never
sure of what it amounted to or how it was done. But much was at stake, not only
in rands and cents but in the reputations of high-ranking people. Maybe it would
have been remiss of National Intelligence if it did not try to fathom out what
Democratic Alliance spokesman on the arms deal Raenette Taljaard slates the
surveillance of, and approaches to, members of a parliamentary committee as a
"misuse of State resources". She compares it with the diversion of
police officers and intelligence operatives to investigate a "plot"
against President Thabo Mbeki within the ANC itself, as disclosed by Safety
& Security Minister Steve Tshwete on television in April.
is equally disturbed by what she perceives as the willingness of Public
Protector Selby Baqwa to treat witnesses at the public hearings into the arms
deal unequally, "depending on who they are". She accuses Baqwa, under
whose auspices the hearings are taking place, of not fulfilling his undertaking
to ensure that all witnesses are shielded from hostile cross-examination more
appropriate to courtroom proceedings in a highly charged trial.
charges that Defence Minister Mosiuoa Lekota and Trade & Industry's Alec
Erwin, as well as several government officials, were allowed to state the case
for the arms deal without having to face rigorous cross-examination.
says CCII Systems MD Richard Young, who contends his company was the victim of
an unfair procurement process in relation to the supply of armament equipment to
four corvettes purchased by the SA Navy, was subject to prolonged and aggressive
questioning by counsel for government departments and rival (and allegedly
from forcing Young to endure a day-and-a-half of adversarial cross-examination
as distinct from the promised polite "inquisitorial" eliciting of
information, she says the Public Protector went one step further by allowing key
navy officials the right of reply.
The "lack of even-handedness", Taljaard concludes, begs the question, who is the Public Protector really protecting?
With acknowledgement to Patrick Laurence and
the Financial Mail.