The internal investigation into the suspension of Robert McBride, head of the State Security Agency (SSA) overseas branch, has been unsettled after more than four months.
A seasoned former legal advisor at the former National Intelligence Agency (NIA ) Attorney Kerensa Millard was brought into the investigation shortly after McBride’s suspension in April. She has been in her own practice for some time.
Millard was appointed by Ayanda Dlodlo, the former Minister of State Security, before Dlodlo, as the new Minister of Public Service and Administration, was moved sideways to replace President Cyril Ramaphosa Cabinet in early August.
McBride’s suspension followed an argument between him and Dlodlo, which was exacerbated by an incident in Mozambique when an SSA team was allegedly “arrested” by the Mozambican authorities.
Millard served in the NIA in the early 2000s when Lindiwe Sisulu and Ronnie Kasrils were the respective ministers in that department. In her own practice, she has represented the state in a number of legal proceedings.
The “arrest” of McBride’s team in April was an embarrassment for Ramaphosa and Dlodlo, who were intensively involved in regional diplomacy in Mozambique. That was at a time when the extremist uprising in Mozambique culminated in an attack on Palma in the northern province of Cabo Delgado in March, killing two foreign contractors and stranding hundreds.
McBride was suspended because the Mozambicans were reportedly dissatisfied with the SSA team in their midst. Dlodlo intervened by jetting to Maputo to discuss the matter with their colleagues there. However, sources close to the operation previously told the Sunday Times that the Mozambican police knew the SA activists in the country well and had exchanged information with one another.
The same intelligence sources gave indicated that Dlodlo allegedly signed the budget for the Cabo Delgado intelligence operation. She was apparently so impressed with the team’s performance that the duration of the operation was extended and the budget adjusted.
The debacle aired at an explosive and impromptu Sunday meeting in April that featured Dlodlo with McBride and. called other high-ranking members of the Foreign Service in attendance. At that meeting, McBride was accused of “Hollywood-style” sending a team and a drone to Mozambique. The team’s passports and the drone were confiscated, although at the time it had been shuttling between SA and Maputo for a few months without any problems.
The team even had a travel permit from the Mozambican police to move around freely in Cabo Delgado. An intelligence report from a Portuguese source against McBride was used during the meeting, although a copy of the report later showed it was dated after the Sunday meeting.
McBride’s suspension was not confirmed by the SSA until July. According to sources within the SSA, McBride has still not received any reasons for his suspension or a letter confirming his suspension. He was appointed last August for a three-year term with 22 months remaining.
Dlodlo was removed from her portfolio after an intelligence foul-up helped the government in the Amt was dark when Gauteng and KwaZulu-Natal were the target of rolling riots two months ago that killed more than 300 people. Before abandoning the option of a “political solution” to pay McBride to leave, they discussed with the SSA legal team.
According to SSA sources, an intermediary apparently reached out to him to ask what it took for him to settle, to which McBride replied: “The end of the world”.
Since then, McBride has not given any explanations or evidence in Millard’s investigation.
Mava Scott, SSA spokesman, would only confirm in early August that “an acting director of the overseas office [Joyce Mashele] has been appointed and work will continue at that level”.
There was no further reply.
Scott also said that McBride’s situation “is being handled internally in relation to labor relations regulations. We cannot predict when the process will be completed, but the agency is keen to expedite and close the matter. ”
Another month later, no further result appears to have been achieved.
McBride did not comment when approached by TimesLIVE.
Mashele was recently criticized for sending members of the domestic branch abroad despite having no experience of gathering information abroad. This list of about 23 items was supposedly approved shortly before Dlodlo’s departure and included a number of those who were in exile during the struggle and some who were due to retire in the near future.
Millard was one of two advocates representing the national director of the prosecution, representing Shamila Batohi in the lawsuit between Ramaphosa and public protector Busisiwe Mkhwebane over her findings on Bosasa payments to the CR17 campaign. Bosasa paid 500,000 ren intended for the campaign fund into the bank account of Ramaphosa’s son Andile. The court ruled in Ramaphosa’s favor.
She held senior positions, including Head of Legal Policy at the Ministry of Intelligence, Deputy Head of Business Intelligence Unit for the SA Revenue Service, and Security Advisor to the MEC and shelter in Gauteng. Shortly after 1994, she was also a member of the Gauteng Provincial Legislature.
Independent intelligence experts told TimesLIVE that it is imperative that stability within the SSA be achieved sooner rather than later, especially in the run-up to elections .
“The agency will remain in suspense as long as most of its senior officials are in their posts. Gab Msimanga is the acting general manager. McBride is suspended and Mashele is acting in his post. Attorney Sam Muofhe, head of the domestic office, resigned in late July when his contract expired, but no one was appointed in his place, “said one.