Mo Shaik's state capture testimony in seven quotes - 'the Guptas were inappropriate'

27 November 2019 - 12:02 By Cebelihle Bhengu
Former spy boss Riaz 'Mo' Shaik at the state capture inquiry in Parktown.
Former spy boss Riaz 'Mo' Shaik at the state capture inquiry in Parktown.

Former head of the state security agency Riaz “Mo” Shaik implicated former president Jacob Zuma, his controversial and corruption-accused cronies the Gupta brothers, and former state security minister Siyabonga Cwele during his testimony to the state capture  inquiry on Tuesday.

Here's his testimony in seven telling quotes:

The Gupta influence

“It was evident that some kind of influence peddling was taking place, particularly by the Gupta brothers, and the president needed to be alive to that information peddling, and the fact that he was dismissive to it will forever be a mystery to me. Whether it was dismissive because he was beholden, I have no knowledge of that, but the inappropriateness of the Gupta family is not in doubt any more.”

Zuma must account 

“The country awaits Zuma's explanation for what was the nature of that relationship and why, in light of so many people raising the issue, he still felt it necessary to defend it.”

On the Guptas calling Themba Maseko 

“I was with Mr Maseko at the time he did got that call. He was sitting across from me when his phone rang. When he put the phone down he said, 'I just got a phone call from Ajay Gupta who I don't know, who is telling me that I must take adverts out in the New Age [newspaper]', He was rattled by that call and it's one of the instances I had, even though indirectly, on the kind of abusive approach that the Gupta family was taking with government officials.”

Investigating Zuma and the Guptas 

“I debated often among colleagues whether we should have continued with the investigation, whether we should have drawn the line in the sand and conducted that investigation. It would have led to enormous troubles, going to labour court and it required an extraordinary amount of courage and foresight to continue, despite having lost the confidence of the president.”

Zuma abandoned his duties for the Guptas 

“I do think the president in his capacity could not separate his personal relationship from his responsibility as the head of state. In that sense, I don't think he was fully cognisant of the constitutional responsibility that they had in the direction of the intelligence services [in terms of what intelligence services do, or not do].”

On his relationship with Siyabonga Cwele 

“My relationship with minister Cwele broke down completely. He took to micromanaging the organisation and having people report to him and I was required to just sign off matters. There were others, very capable people, who felt they were put in a compromising position because they respected me as the head of the services, yet they received messages from the office of the minister to do certain things, and would come to me to require just my signature. This became an untenable position for me.”

On contemplating quitting, 'dodgy' offers

“I received a call from the minister, and he expressed his unhappiness and asked whether I would consider a resignation from the department and get transferred to another department. I said I would give this serious consideration. I thought resigning was the most elegant way out of the situation, as the job was not worth the energy any more. Before I could tender my resignation, he called me into a meeting where he made an offer to appoint me as the SA ambassador to Japan. I got the sense that Cwele was acting as the shadow foreign affairs minister.”

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