POLITICS

Zuma's Playbook: Plots, Revolution And Crises

The Hawks' Gauteng head Prince Mokotedi's allegations about plans to "ignite" an "Arab Spring-like revolution" are fantastical. But we've seen this movie before.

16/12/2016 07:36 SAST | Updated 16/12/2016 18:31 SAST
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Vusi Pikoli, former nartional director of public prosecutions. He was the victim of the Special Browse Mole Report, a fabricated intelligence report which in 2007 claimed Jacob Zuma was orchestrating a coup with foreign assistance.

COMMENT

When Vusi Pikoli trudged out of the Old Assembly in Parliament one day in February 2009, he was a defeated man.

A parliamentary ad hoc committee had found that then-President Kgalema Motlanthe's decision to fire Pikoli, the national director of public prosecutions, was correct and that he was not fit to serve in that position.

But Pikoli wasn't ousted because he was found by a High Court to be a liar (like the court said of Hawks head Berning Ntlemeza), or that he failed to uphold and defend the Constitution (like the court found about President Jacob Zuma) or even that he trolled a member of the executive in public (like present NDPP Shaun Abrahams has done with Pravin Gordhan).

Pikoli lost his job because of Angolan President Eduardo dos Santos, almost $5-million from Muammar Ghaddafi and plans to foment a popular "street revolt", orchestrated by Jacob Zuma, to oust Thabo Mbeki from the presidency. Zuma was supposed to be assisted by former senior commanders of Umkhonto weSizwe (MK), led by General Siphiwe Nyanda, who would bring the military along. Besides former MK staff, Brett Kebble helped with financing the plans and Clive Derby-Lewis and Janusz Walus' lawyers were also involved.

Pikoli lost his job because of Angolan President Eduardo dos Santos, almost $5-million from Muammar Ghaddafi and plans to foment a popular "street revolt", orchestrated by Jacob Zuma

Of course, this was absolute crap, but a report was drawn up within security structures, given a weird title ("Special Browse Mole Report") and leaked to Cosatu (then a staunch Zuma ally) who in turn faxed it to a number of media houses.

The target of course wasn't the "plotter," Zuma, or anybody named in the report. The target was the Scorpions, an elite corruption-busting unit that threatened Zuma and his cronies. The Scorpions were located in the National Prosecuting Authority (NPA), with Pikoli as its head.

When Pikoli initially received the report, he dismissed it but shared it with the heads of other security structures. His "lackadaisical" approach was used as proof that he condoned the report, and was dismissed in the post-Mbeki cleanup.

Browse Mole wasn't the last – or the first – dreamed-up report with nefarious political objectives. The "ground coverage report" in 2012 "exposed" a plot by senior leaders of the African National Congress (ANC) to bump off Zuma. There were also the "hoax emails", which alleged a plot against Zuma, the accusations Tokyo Sexwale, Cyril Ramaphosa and Mathews Phosa wanted to get rid of Mbeki, and recently the operations in Treasury and the South African Revenue Service (Sars), like "Operation Snowman" to smear Gordhan.

Browse Mole wasn't the last – or the first – dreamed up report with nefarious political objectives.

The latest iteration – the charges by Gauteng Hawks head Prince Mokotedi against Robert McBride and others – appears to be just as fantastical as its predecessors.

McBride, head of the Independent Police Investigative Directorate (Ipid), investigator Paul O'Sullivan, Shadrack Sibiya (Mokotedi's predecessor) and representatives of the DA and Afrikaner rights-group AfiForum, are apparently the fulcrum of a grandiose plot to "ignite a revolution".

Mokotedi, in an affidavit, claims intelligence sources confirmed the existence of a plot, hatched by this motley crew to target and remove senior officials, including the national police commissioner, Kgomotso Phahlane, Ntlemeza, Mokotedi, Abrahams and the newly-appointed head of the State Security Agency Arthur Fraser.

Mokotedi claims they have enlisted the help of journalists to tarnish those individuals reputations. McBride and Sibiya will collect damaging information on them and in turn put pressure on politicians to get rid of them.

The affidavit continues to refer to an "Arab Spring-like revolt", international roleplayers being mobilised and a popular revolt leading to Zuma's ouster.

The affidavit continues to refer to an "Arab Spring-like revolt", international roleplayers being mobilised and a popular revolt leading to Zuma's ouster.

Who takes this seriously? The problem is that some do, and that there will be action. The low-scale war in government – with Treasury being targeted, Sars a battlefield, Ipid investigating the Hawks (and vice versa), the NPA at the ready to charge Gordhan – means smoke, mirrors and paranoia everywhere.

The fabrication of a crisis in order to act is one of the oldest tricks in the playbook of political survival. Zuma has perfected this to a tee.

Pikoli's career as national director of public prosecutions was destroyed because of fairy tales and bad prose.

Mokotedi's allegations seem like more of the same.