Former State Security minister Siyabonga Cwele was allegedly opposed to the agency’s investigation of the Gupta family, the Zondo commission of inquiry into state capture heard on Friday.
Cwele had allegedly objected to the investigation, saying it was not pursued bona fide, but was rather being pursued by former head of intelligence Gibson Njenje, who was “protecting his business interests”.
Testifying at the State Capture Inquiry on Friday, former director-general (DG) at the State Security Agency (SSA) Mzuvukile Maqetuka said although he does not recall Cwele instructing them to stop the investigation, “his utterances, interaction and gestures were that this must stop”.
Several instances motivated the investigation.
Information from US intelligence services and concerns about the family’s involvement in the purchase of a uranium mine. A report that Fikile Mbalula, speaking during an NEC (national executive committee) meeting, raised that one of the Gupta brothers had informed him he would be offered a Cabinet post before he was officially told about it.
The NEC meeting, which took place in August 2011, saw members having a tense discussion about the influence of the Guptas.
“The issue of Mbalula we considered it a very serious national security issue,” he told the commission.”He was told by an outsider that he was going to be appointed. We said ‘no’. The second one, was to protect [former] president [Jacob] Zuma because we said it will tarnish his relationship with his people.
“It will tarnish his [Zuma] name, and mind you, at that time, we did not have the depth of his relationship with these people but today, 2020, we can look back and say we were right, we were right to have alerted him and we were right to have said it will tarnish his name,” Maqetuka said.
He said he and his intelligence colleagues, Njenje and Mo Shaik, had a meeting with Cwele in Cape Town in 2011, but the meeting did not yield results.
He said in that meeting they were mostly “rambling” about the so-called conflict of interest regarding Njenje’s business interests and the Guptas.
He said, until today, he was still curious about what business interests Cwele was referring to.
“When I saw that we were not being serious about the matter, I said to the minister that we would discuss the matter with the president… at that time I was very clear I am not going to get instructions from the minister on this investigation. We will report this matter with the president.”
He said they approached the former president and told him about the contents of the investigation.
He added that Zuma told them in detail about his relationship with the Gupta family.
“The president was going along with the idea that the investigation was irregular,” Maqetuka said.
He said although Zuma did not instruct them to stop the investigation, his demeanour during the meeting made it clear that he wanted it to stop.
– News24 Wire