A busy time for the spooks

Andrew Donaldson says Fikile Mbalula has decreed that crime intelligence should focus on crime


WE were just talking about Fikile Mbalula, here at the Mahogany Ridge, when the barmaid mentioned that, some months back, the police minister had graciously held the door open for her as she entered a restaurant.

“Yes,” she said, “I don’t normally like clowns, even small ones, but I thought that was a nice jester.”

Oh, how we laughed. For, in truth, Mbalula would make a good hotel concierge, although he may need a wooden box to stand on in order to be seen by cabdrivers when hailing guests a taxi.

But, on the plus side, he is big on the bonhomie, and will go to great lengths to raise the spirits of those in despond. On Thursday, for example, Mbalula did much in an attempt to cheer up MPs in the National Assembly who had expressed concern about law and order.

We’re not sure he succeeded, for there is much that is vexing there. With reports that cops are the prime suspects in the disappearance of dozens of firearms from police stations and senior officers implicated in cocaine trafficking, it really does seem as if 70% of the police are giving the other 30% a bad name. 

Yet Mbalula insists that he “calls the shots” when it comes to the SAPS and — cue drumroll and cymbal crash — he has given an order that the bad spooks in the crime intelligence unit be dealt with.

“What I can tell you is there are some rogue elements who at any given point in time take their chances in relation to crime intelligence,” he told MPs.

“This coming Monday and onwards, we will be attending to crime intelligence, including giving special directives … to ensure crime intelligence executes its mandate in the fight against crime.”

This is a busy time for the spooks. The ANC’s presidential campaign is now officially upon us, and allegations that the intelligence services have been piling on the smear, as it were, are rife. 

Mbalula regards these charges as serious, so much so that he took to using muddled big words and referring to himself in the third person: “With regard to allegation or otherwise manifestations in the public discourse about politician interference, it is the intention of the minister to probe and get to the bottom of this and for those who make such allegations … to come forward and provide evidence.”

“Probe” and “bottom” are, of course, appropriately schoolboyish terms when it comes to the so-called sex scandal surrounding the deputy president, Cyril Ramaphosa, the leading contender in the ruling party’s leadership race.

But “low farce” may be more fitting — especially now that the business tycoon and local Trump-like vulgarian Kenny Kunene has entered the frame.

Kunene survived a supposed assassination attempt on Tuesday evening when the BMW he was travelling in was shot at a number of times by gunmen in Johannesburg. Many found Sushi King Kunene's amazing escape, a trifle fishy.

This comes after Kunene’s grubby site, Weekly Xposé, came out batting for the Sunday Independent’s revelations about Ramaphosa’s alleged extramarital affairs by publishing a fuzzy film clip of one of the buffalo soldier’s supposed paramours apparently polishing silver in an unusual manner.

In a political milieu where sex scandals are all too frequent , it seems pointless that Ramaphosa’s detractors should attempt to go after him via his trousers. 

A good fossick, surely, through the spread sheets rather than the bed sheets might reveal a better sort of filth. He is after all an extremely wealthy former trade unionist, and does that mean we can trust him? And there is the, uh, rub.

But, speaking of the trustworthy, there is perhaps little President Jacob Zuma can do to influence the leadership race. According to a Kantaar TNS poll, the president’s performance approval rating dropped to a new low of 18% last month.

The survey indicated, meanwhile, that Ramaphosa remained the most popular candidate to lead the ANC among metro residents. Some 75% of residents in the metros disagreed that Zuma was doing a good job.

Still, he tries. 

On Thursday, Zuma told supporters in Lwandle, in the Strand, that he couldn’t understand how the DA could control the Western Cape. “But then you can’t explain how witches do their business,” he added.

Never mind. All that mattered was that the witches were good at their business. Which may explain why he suggested that, when he retired, he wanted to settle in the Western Cape. 

No mention then of Dubai.

This article first appeared in the Weekend Argus.