The Spy in Zuma's Eye
|Date||September 2003, Issue 49|
Whether Director of Public Prosecutions Buleleni Ngcuka was a spy for the apartheid regime or not - and he says he intends challenging his accusers in court - it is clear that the accusations comes as the next round of a vicious smear campaign by the supporters of Deputy President Jacob Zuma.
This is not the first time controversial intelligence records to which Zuma and his friends Mac Maharaj and the Shaik brothers had unique access - they compiled them! - have been used against a political enemy.
With his personal financial advisor and former secret agent Schabir Shaik in court charged with corruption and fraud for allegedly facilitating or soliciting a bribe on the deputy president's behalf from a foreign arms company, Zuma is fighting for his political life.
In 1987, he was head of the ANC's Intelligence Department in Lusaka. According to the ANC submission to the TRC, Zuma's Lusaka-based operation helped the ANC identify "over 600 (Security Branch) agents - in exile and deployed in internal ANC and MDM structures - from details of reports they had submitted to their handlers." Mo and Yunis Shaik, brothers of Schabir, working under Zuma, claimed to have recruited security branch officials in Natal who copied SB files to be fed back to Zuma. To this day, the Shaiks claim allegiance to Zuma. Mo Shaik and Mac Maharaj - who was Zuma's deputy in ANC intelligence - are now punting the story that Ngcuka was among those they identified as an SB spy.
Twelve years ago, a similar spy "file" was produced to end the career of the president of the National Union of Metalworkers, Maxwell Xulu. Many had considered Xulu a potential leader in the province under the new dispensation.
"Xulu has been edited out of union history in true Stalinist style," says a former leader in the movement. The only mention of Xulu is in the ANC's official submission to the TRC in 1996, where he and two others are named as apartheid spies. "A former treasurer-general of Cosatu, his Security Police source number was PNJ645," it is stated in the document. " He was controlled by Warrant Officers Brown and Twala of the Port Natal region. He submitted 23 reports, in which he is described as a ‘high-level contact with the leadership in exile'." The information came from the ANC's Security and Intelligence Department.
Alec Erwin, then Numsa education secretary, brought the evidence to the union and prosecuted Xulu on the basis of files allegedly provided by an ANC mole. Erwin allowed Xulu and other Numsa office-bearers to examine the files in the room during the hearing, but would not permit them to be copied or taken away.
One who was present says the files looked convincing, covered with police stamps. However, Xulu's name did not appear in them, only a code number PN645. ANC intelligence thought Xulu must be the guilty party, as he had been present at all the meetings reported on.
The trouble was that others in the union movement were also present at all the meetings reported upon to the police, so why had Xulu been singled out? (Similarly, the evidence in the possession of City Press, the newspaper to break the Ngcuka "spy" story, indicates that the ANC had merely speculated as to whether Source RS452 was in fact Ngcuka.
Xulu angrily left the union and shortly thereafter collected six bullets in the legs and chest from would-be assassins.
Clearly, somebody wanted to get rid of Xulu, six months before the unbanning o f the ANC. Why? One version says Xulu was targeted because he was very popular but a workerist and very critical of the South African Communist Party (SACP). Another suggests that, with liberation round the corner, there was a need to clear out possible rivals to Jacob Zuma so that he could succeed to the premiership of KwaZulu-Natal.
Moses Mayekiso, the then secretary general of NUMSA, refused to comment beyond saying the union had "had sufficient evidence to do what it did."
Maybe, but those troubled at the time by the allegations against Xulu see parallels in Ngcuka's predicament. He is currently Zuma's biggest opponent.
With acknowledgement to Noseweek.