US intelligence and ANC spies targeted Zuma and Magashule

A Secret Intelligence brief on the US compiled by the political office at the US Embassy in Pretoria spied on former president Jacob Zuma, Ace Magashule, Carl Niehaus and many other leaders of the ANC. Picture: GCIS/SAPA.

A Secret Intelligence brief on the US compiled by the political office at the US Embassy in Pretoria spied on former president Jacob Zuma, Ace Magashule, Carl Niehaus and many other leaders of the ANC. Picture: GCIS/SAPA.

Published Apr 14, 2024


LAST week, the Sunday Independent published part one of the State Security Report after the Supreme Court of Appeal (SCA) overturned a 2022 high court ruling preventing Independent Media from publishing a report dated November 5, 2020, titled “Top secret: US interest in ANC party dynamics”, commissioned by US intelligence operating at the country’s offices in Pretoria.

Among those who were targeted by the US spies were Jacob Zuma, Ace Magashule, Carl Niehaus and many others, including former ANC Youth League leaders.

“The purpose of this intelligence brief is to inform the Minister and Deputy Minister of the State Security Agency (SSA) of the extent of the United States' collection efforts and outputs regarding the political dynamics of the ANC, specifically in relation to developments regarding ANC Secretary General Ace Magashule and his perceived anti-president Cyril Ramaphosa positioning.

“The US National Security Strategy has mandated US intelligence formations to ‘'identify and assess capabilities, activities, and intentions of states and non-state entities and to develop a deep understanding of the strategic environment and to warn of future developments on issues’."

“As such, the Political Office of the US Embassy in Tshwane continues to gather information related to the ruling party, which is then sent to the US State Department,” read the report.

The report stated that its political office at the US Embassy in Pretoria concluded that Magashule was “galvanising his supporters in anticipation of his arrest for corruption”.

“This is in addition to the defiance of the Zondo Commission by former president Jacob Zuma, which forms part of the broader anti-Ramaphosa faction's strategy to protect both Zuma and Magashule. This brief confirms that the US Embassy is part of the US intelligence community, and has a network of ANC party officials who, wittingly or unwittingly, share privileged information.

“The Free State ANC and ANCYL are leading efforts to defend Magashule and will exploit his possible arrest to launch a campaign to have President Ramaphosa removed as the ANC President at the next National General Council (NGC). In addition, the Free State ANCYL is being leveraged by Magashule to garner public sympathy and project himself as a victim of political purging by President Ramaphosa.

“The Free State ANCYL is lobbying other provinces to support their efforts. In this regard, it was assessed that the KwaZulu-Natal ANC Provincial Chairperson and current Premier of KwaZulu-Natal, Sihle Zikalala will not support Magashule's efforts to divide the ANC and weaken President Ramaphosa,” read the report.

It was not clear how the US embassy assessed and concluded that Zikalala would not support the so-called plan to weaken Ramaphosa.

“The Free State ANCYL provincial leadership was recently disbanded and the group that is currently purporting to be the leaders of the ANCYL, are merely a ‘rented crowd’ who are protecting an ‘individual’. The national office of the ANCYL respects the rule of law and will not support any ANC leaders accused of corruption, including Magashule.

“Pro-Magashule business people from the Free State (not identified) are coordinating support for both Magashule and Zuma and have funded structures such as the Umkhonto we Sizwe Military Veterans Association (MKMVA) and the ANC Women's League. The ANCYL was invited by former ANC Spokesperson, Carl Niehaus, to join a campaign to support Magashule,” read the report.

The Secret Intelligence report also stated that a controversial businessperson with links to Magashule, furnished the Free State ANCYL with R 2.8 million early in 2020 to fund their operations.

It further said that former president Zuma and Magashule met regularly in Durban, KwaZulu-Natal to strategise and consolidate their campaign to weaken the Zondo Commission and President Ramaphosa.

“Their strategy is to delay the work of the commission until it runs out of time without cross-examining Zuma and Magashule. This campaign is coordinated and led by key Zuma allies, including: Carl Niehaus and a former Minister of Environmental Affairs,” read the report.

Contacted for comment, spokesperson of the Zuma Foundation Mzwanele Manyi said that due to the political nature of the matter, Zuma’s political party the uMkhonto weSizwe Party (MK Party) was better positioned to comment. However, MK Party spokesperson Nhlamulo Ndlela did not respond to questions from the publication.

Asked about the report, Magashule said: “Niehaus told the publication that it was no secret that he was opposed to Ramaphosa’s style of leadership and also said that he expressed his strong concerns about how the Zondo commission was being conducted.

“I openly spoke about this but I don't remember trying to recruit ANCYL against Ramaphosa. What I find more disturbing is the fact that the US is spying on ANC leaders using the same ANC leaders to spy on their comrades.

“The Zondo commission was weaponised by certain factions within the ruling party to fight others. It is a shock that even some ANC leaders are US spies,” said Niehaus.

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