The State Security Agency (SSA) has refused to comment on a leaked intelligence report that ANC MP Xiaomei Havard has allegedly been sharing classified information about South Africa with the Chinese Communist Party (CCP).
This follows a News24 report on Wednesday about a leaked intelligence report that apparently raised concerns over the Chinese-born South African businesswoman’s close links to China and its impact on SA’s national security.
SSA spokesperson Mava Scott told The Citizen the agency does not comment on intelligence reports to the media.
“We also can’t state whether the report is authentic or not,” Scott said.
Havard, 55, was appointed earlier this year as an MP in the National Assembly after the passing of former minister in the Presidency, Jackson Mthembu, who died from Covid-related complications.
Havard’s appointment caused ructions, even among ANC members, as she appeared not to have much background in ANC activism. Her biography also said little about her ANC involvement, except that she joined the party in 2004.
Havard’s ‘close links’ to Chinese organisations
According to the News24 report, the leaked intelligence report concluded that there was a “high likelihood” that Havard was sharing classified information with the Chinese government.
This was allegedly part of the Chinese government’s modus operandi to gather intelligence to help assist its investments abroad using academics, university students and journalists to influence on their behalf.
Havard has denied the allegations against her to News24, saying she had never provided any information to Chinese intelligence agencies. The ANC parliamentary caucus said it would not probe the claims as it was not an investigating body.
ANC says it know nothing
In a statement issued on Wednesday morning, the ANC Parliamentary Caucus said it had “taken note of a series of media reports making rounds for months now” regarding Havard.
“The Office wishes to place it on the record that it is not privy to such intelligence reports and is not an accredited service provider in intelligence matters. It neither has the investigative capabilities to deal with such matters and is thus unable to comment on the authenticity nor veracity of these purported reports.”
The caucus said it was not at liberty to comment any further on the claims.
No real ANC activism background
Aside from attending a few gatherings of the ANC Women’s League (ANCWL), several Chinese and SA business gatherings, and attending Brics (Brazil, Russia, India, China and South Africa) forums, Havard appears to have undertaken no real ANC activism.
Her other association with ANC leaders was through the China-SA Distinguished Female Business Council, of which she is co-president. She led the council’s tribute to late ANC stalwart Winnie Madikizela-Mandela in April 2018.
Some ANC senior members remain unconvinced about Havard’s credentials and her appearance on the party’s list for Parliament ahead of the 2019 election.
She was nominated by Gauteng, which had benefited from her business generosity. That included recruiting several female entrepreneurs to form a bridge between SA and Chinese businesswomen.
Havard was born in Henan, China, and the ANC said she moved here in 1993 and after marrying a South African, became a naturalised citizen.
It’s not clear what offence she committed for her to be included among 23 parliamentary candidates the ANC integrity commission wanted excluded from the party list due to misconduct allegations.
But the ANC had defended Havard’s selection as an MP, with ANC chief whip Pemmy Majodina saying her “appointment meets constitutional muster and is allowed”.
ANC notes media reports
Meanwhile, Majodina’s office said in a statement on Wednesday it had taken note of a series of media reports making rounds for months now regarding Havard.
The ANC chief whip’s spokesperson, Nomfanelo Kota, said they did not have access to intelligence reports and would not comment on the claims against Havard.
“The office wishes to place it on the record that it is not privy to such intelligence reports and is not an accredited service provider in intelligence matters.
“It neither has the investigative capabilities to deal with such matters and is thus unable to comment on the authenticity nor veracity of these purported reports,” Kota said.
“We, therefore, do not wish to encroach on the line functions of authorised agencies and are not at liberty to comment.”