Arthur Fraser. Picture: GALLO IMAGES
Arthur Fraser. Picture: GALLO IMAGES

Spy boss Arthur Fraser has been moved from his powerful position of State Security Agency (SSA) director-general just two days before a court battle with intelligence watchdog head Setlhomamaru Dintwe is due to be heard.

Fraser, a staunch ally of former president Jacob Zuma, stripped Dintwe, the inspector-general of intelligence, of his security clearance earlier in April. Last week Dintwe lodged a court challenge seeking to reverse Fraser’s decision and to prevent him from meddling in the investigation by the Office of the Inspector-General of Intelligence.

Fraser, the former spy supremo, will now have his hands full at correctional services, where he becomes national commissioner with immediate effect.

That position, which is equivalent to that of director-general, was previously occupied by another Zuma ally, Tom Moyane, at present on suspension from the South African Revenue Service.

With Fraser no longer at the SSA, President Cyril Ramaphosa has dealt a severe blow to Zuma and his allies, many of whom were strategically placed inside the security cluster, and particularly in intelligence structures.

The move could also allow the inspector-general to proceed with his investigation unimpeded and for the state security minister to stem the reported abuse of state security resources and any attempts to fight political battles.

In terms of the Intelligence Services Act, the inspector- general of intelligence is a presidential appointment.

Dintwe said in his founding affidavit that allegations being investigated against Fraser included the claim that he fraudulently copied the signature of former intelligence services minister Ronnie Kasrils in order to establish an illegal intelligence programme known as the Principal Agent Network. Fraser is also alleged to have improperly awarded tenders and contracts to people associated with his family through the Principal Agent Network. These allegations were made in author Jacques Pauw’s best-selling book The President’s Keepers.

According to the State Security Ministry, Fraser’s transfer followed consultation between Ramaphosa, State Security Minister Dipuo Letsatsi-Duba and Fraser on a “suitable location for the director-general”.

Loyiso Jafta becomes the new acting director-general of intelligence. He has extensive experience in intelligence dating back to his days in Umkhonto weSizwe, where he served as an analyst in its department of intelligence and security. He also worked as an analyst within the counterintelligence division of the former National Intelligence Agency; as a client liaison officer at the National Intelligence Co-ordinating Committee; and as convener of the provincial intelligence co-ordinating committee for KwaZulu-Natal.

The SSA was created under Zuma. Previously, domestic and foreign intelligence were separate divisions, with the National Intelligence Agency being responsible for the former.

Until the announcement, Jafta worked as an adviser to Deputy Correctional Services Minister Thabang Makwetla.

Makwetla was the convener of the MK National Council, a group that was critical of the state of the ANC under the leadership of Zuma.

Jac Marais from Adams & Adams Attorneys, who represent Dintwe in his court bid, said the case remained on the court roll for Thursday.

“The issues raised in the application require urgent determination notwithstanding the removal of the director- general,” Marais said.

Security clearance

The application by Dintwe is twofold, one of which was urgent. It included an attempt to interdict Fraser from giving effect to his decision to revoke Dintwe’s security clearance. The other was to interdict Fraser from interfering in any manner with the functions of the inspector-general of intelligence.

Dintwe had also wanted the court to order the SSA director-general to co-operate with the investigations being undertaken by the intelligence watchdog.

The final relief sought includes a declaration that the State Security Agency director-general has no authority to grant, revise or revoke the security clearance of the inspector- general of intelligence.