Ramaphosa not ‘micromanaging’ the intelligence service, says retired spy boss
Ramaphosa made radical changes to his cabinet security cluster
Those who have worked closely with President Cyril Ramaphosa know that he is not a micromanager, according to recently retired State Security Agency (SSA) domestic branch head Sam Mahlodi Muofhe.
“Having served under him, I can tell you that this president has never micromanaged any department or told any DG what to do, including me.
“All the president wants to see happening is for people to do their jobs and do it properly. So the assertion that he wants to micromanage the intelligence services is misplaced,” said Moufhe, whose contract at SSA ended on July 31.
Commenting on Ramaphosa’s decision to take full control of the SSA when he reshuffled his cabinet on Thursday evening, Moufhe said the decision was long overdue.
Ramaphosa made radical changes to his cabinet’s security cluster, moving state security minister Ayanda Dlodlo to the public administration portfolio and firing defence minister Nosiviwe Mapisa-Nqakula.
Where the state security agency was concerned, Ramaphosa went a step further than a ministerial change — scrapping the ministry altogether and placing its political oversight within the presidency under deputy minister Zizi Kodwa.
Ramaphosa also appointed Dr Sydney Mufamadi, who led a review panel that probed the SSA, as his new national security adviser.
Moufhe said: “What he [Ramaphosa] is doing is what he should have done when he took over. I think that the president must have weighed everything in considering all the factors before he came to this conclusion. It’s not uncommon to have the intelligence services reporting directly to a president. In other jurisdictions globally, intelligence services report directly to the president.”
Reflecting on his tenure at the agency, Moufhe admitted that he left the SSA during a difficult period. However, he said he had left the agency in a better state than what he had inherited.
He said the Mufamadi report, which “laid bare all the ills which took place in the SSA in the past decade”, marked a difficult start to his tenure.
“I was confronted with corruption and so my focus was to ensure that corrupt officials must be criminally charged. When I got there, I only had one DDG who was permanently employed. It was a fractured domestic branch,” he said.
Moufhe further added that he ensured that those who were working in an acting capacity were appointed permanently.
In a bid to clean house, Moufhe said seven serious criminal cases were opened against corrupt SSA agents.
“Two of them are already on the court roll and I am confident that all the cases that I have opened will yield successful prosecution,” he said.
Moufhe hopes that his remaining colleagues will make it their task to root out corrupt agents within and outside the agency.
“I hope that my colleagues will use the Mufamadi report as a Bible from which to work to continue to cleanse the agency. When I left there was a feeling that my colleagues felt like they need to pull up their socks.”
He said in the past the SSA “was run like a bank with a vault where people just went in and took money as they wished”.
“Since I came, that vault is closed. I can tell you under oath that the president [Ramaphosa] has never told me to take a cent to him. He has not told me to do anything but to do the right thing.”
Moufhe would not be drawn into commenting on the recent failed insurrection in KwaZulu-Natal, saying only that the “ball was dropped collectively during level four [of the lockdown]” when scores of former president Jacob Zuma supporters travelled to Nkandla to show their support ahead of his incarceration.