Sunday, March 26, 2006

Ramaphosa and Ngonyama also bugged by spies

The Democratic Alliance’s parliamentary offices, businessman Cyril Ramaphosa, ANC chief whip Mbulelo Goniwe and the ruling party’s spokesperson Smuts Ngonyama were among 13 targets whose telephones were unlawfully intercepted by the National Intelligence Agency. The interception was revealed in the report of Inspector-General Zolile Ngcakani after an investigation into hoax emails and the unlawful surveillance of ANC national executive committee member Saki Macozoma and media academic Anton Harber. The Sunday Tribune reports that the 13 telephone intercept targets were not named in the official report, but according to intelligence sources Ramaphosa, Goniwe, Ngonyama and the DA offices were among them. The bugging was done through an intelligence communications facility – known as the National Communications Centre – at the time dismissed NIA Director-General Billy Masetlha was acting executive director of the centre. This was part of Project Avani – an intelligence assignment aimed at monitoring the political climate in the country. But Ngcakani said the legitimate project was hijacked by Masetlha to sow confusion in the ensuing succession battle in the ruling party. The fight culminated in the ANC being polarised into camps supporting either President Thabo Mbeki or embattled former deputy president Jacob Zuma. Ngcakani said that almost 100 emails were created to look as if they were sent and intercepted between February and October last year.

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