Robert McBride. Picture: ALON SKUY
Robert McBride. Picture: ALON SKUY

Robert McBride, former head of the police watchdog body Ipid, has been appointed director the State Security Agency’s foreign branch.

The position means he will direct SA’s intelligence gathering outside the country’s borders.

His appointment to head SA’s foreign intelligence also comes about a year after his term as head of the Independent Police Investigative Directorate (Ipid) was not renewed.

As head of the police watchdog, McBride was at loggerheads with the executive as he probed SA’s top cops among others. Most notable was his frequent legal fights with former police minister Nathi Nhleko, an ally of former president Jacob Zuma.

Nhleko suspended McBride on allegations that he had tampered with a report recommending charges against former Hawks boss Anwa Dramat and former Gauteng Hawks head Shadrack Sibiya, who were alleged to have been implicated in illegal extraditions of four Zimbabweans.

His suspension was challenged up to the Constitutional Court, which set it aside, after which he was reinstated. ​In 2018, the National Prosecuting Authority provisionally withdrew the charges against Dramat and Sibiya.

McBride was prominent in law enforcement, during Zuma’s term.

State security minister Ayanda Dlodlo said in a statement on Thursday that Ramaphosa had approved McBride’s appointment, effective from July 1 2020 to June 30 2023.

She said McBride’s appointment would bring organisational stability to the SSA, which for all of Zuma’s time in office was seen to be furthering political agendas.

About a year ago, a report by a high-level review panel appointed by Ramaphosa to look into SA’s intelligence agency laid bare how Zuma used its machinery and resources for political ends, and called for wide-scale reform of the SSA.

 The panel recommended splitting the SSA again into foreign and domestic intelligence structures. The president accepted the recommendation on its restructuring and this process is under way.

“The work to implement the recommendations of the high-level panel on the State Security Agency is proceeding steadily. This appointment is one of the critical steps towards the journey to rebuild the agency,” Dlodlo said.

The ministry said McBride, also a former chief of the Ekurhuleni metropolitan police, would bring a “wealth of experience” to the security services.

mailovichc@businesslive.co.za

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