Tuesday, October 21, 2003

Its too early to know what to make of the revelation that RS452 was one Vanessa Brereton of London and not Bulelani Ngcuka. But my hunch is that this is bad for Ngcuka's accusers. If the allegation is that Ngcuka specifically was RS452 then clearly they are discredited. But if it is that Ngcuka was linked with RS452 then things don't look good either. Brereton says that she has had enough of the 'lies and deceit' and wants to 'set the record straight' about Ngcuka. To me, this suggests that she wants to clear Ngcuka's name - or at least clarify that she had nothing to do with him.

One also has to consider why else she would have come forward. Having been an apartheid spy is nothing to be proud of. If she knew that she would drag Ngcuka down with her then the temptation would probably have been to lie low. But if coming forward allows her to clear his name then that provides some sort of incentive. She might regard this a type of redemption - by shaming herself publicly she extricates the country from a mess, thereby giving something back.

This is all speculative - we will have to see how things unfold. I should add though that I wouldn't be surprised if the Hefer Commission peters out. Bear in mind that Maharaj was in the cabinet when Ngcuka was appointed as Director of Public Prosecutions. If he had knowledge of Ngcuka's allegedly sordid past then, why didn't he speak out? After all, being Director of Public Prosecutions requires integrity and independence, and spying for the apartheid government isn't exactly suggestive of those qualities. At the very least, if Maharaj is proved right, that doesn't reflect well on him either - allowing Ngcuka to be appointed, knowing what he did, was irresponsible.

I know that Andrew thinks Ngcuka won't be in a job in 6 months but I rather hope that he is. I agree that he made a mess of the Zuma investigation but the mere fact that he undertook it - even if it got out of hand - shows admirable independence. Of course, Maharaj's allegations might yet be verified, in which case I will have to revise this assessment, but it doesn't look likely at the moment.

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