MK party: Kremlin’s Spear; Ramaphosa’s “unlawful” Putin deal freed Zuma – André Pienaar

André Pienaar is a venture capitalist, CEO, and founder of C5 Capital, a firm with a diverse portfolio spanning the cybersecurity, space, and nuclear power industries. He is also one of the co-founders of the Scorpions, which, according to Pienaar, was one of the most successful law enforcement units. However, it was dismantled by former President Jacob Zuma after the Scorpions started investigating Zuma and the Commissioner of Police, Jackie Selebi, for corruption. Pienaar was accused by Zuma of being a CIA spy, a claim that Pienaar says in an interview with BizNews, “placed a marker on me and my family as a form of intimidation.” Now, 15 years after the disbanding of the Scorpions, Pienaar has decided to fight back. He shares some details of the events in a recent article in National Security News and is planning to reveal more in an upcoming book scheduled for publication in August titled: “Mandela’s Untouchables – The Scorpions and the Fight for Justice in South Africa.” Pienaar alleges that Zuma has ‘Russian masters’ and that the uMkhonto weSizwe (ML) party is a proxy of the GRU, Russia’s Military Intelligence Service. He describes it as one of the most dangerous and predatory intelligence organisations in the world that “will undoubtedly try to interfere in the South African elections.” Pienaar also accuses President Cyril Ramaphosa of having done an “unlawful” deal with Russian President Vladimir Putin during the Russia Africa summit in St Petersburg in 2023 to keep Zuma out of prison. Regarding the potential reinstatement of the Scorpions,” Pienaar remarked that it was possible. However, it would take great political will to fight organised crime in the country. The process should be started, he says, by giving Zuma his day in court and by sending him back to prison to complete his sentence for contempt of court after failing to appear before the Zondo Commission into corruption. 

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Relevant timestamps from the interview

  • 00:00 – Introduction 
  • 01:00 – Andre Pienaar on what motivated him to write the book at this particular time
  • 03:09 – On what went wrong for the Scorpions
  • 05:36 – Charges laid against him by Zuma and the effect this had on his family
  • 09:54 – On the article he wrote talking about corruption charges laid against Zuma
  • 12:42 – The alleged deal between Ramaphosa and Putin
  • 16:57 – Destruction of Scorpions
  • 20:39 – On the alleged funding of both the MK party and the ANC
  • 23:44 – Is it possible to revive the Scorpions
  • 26:53 – Conclusions

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Highlights from the interview ___STEADY_PAYWALL___

The untold story of the Scorpions: One of the most successful law enforcement worldwide 

The story of the Scorpions is a really important, untold story for South Africa, and also for the world. The Scorpions are a great South African success story. They are an integral part of the history of our democracy in South Africa. They are a tribute to the leadership of the ANC at the time, and also a tribute to how South Africans can work together to accomplish results to sustain and build South Africa as a successful democracy.

It’s an example of how South Africa can build successful alliances with other democracies. Their inspirational story of great courage and resilience is highly relevant for the international community today because all democracies are struggling with the question of police reform. How do we achieve effective law enforcement and policing that is compatible with human rights, supports social justice, and leads to safer cities and communities for democratic countries?

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The Scorpions are a very successful example of police reform. Uniquely, we innovated law enforcement because the Scorpions brought together a combination of intelligence officers, detectives, and prosecutors in one unit, which is a very unique combination. This meant that the Scorpions could take on some very difficult cases and prosecute them very effectively with a very high success rate in these prosecutions.

Right from the beginning, the prosecutors set evidential standards and laid out the law for the intelligence officers and the detectives, so that there was a plan focused on a successful prosecution from the very beginning. This close integration between prosecutors, intelligence officers, and law enforcement officials made the Scorpions one of the most successful law enforcement units not only in South Africa but worldwide.

Where it all went wrong: Corruption cases against Jackie Selebi and Zuma 

Often, very successful law enforcement units become victims of their own success. The Scorpions ended up investigating two very difficult cases simultaneously. One was the corruption of former Police Commissioner Jackie Selebi, and the other was the corruption associated with the then Deputy President Jacob Zuma. Prosecuting both these cases simultaneously led to the undoing of the unit. When President Zuma came into power, he immediately disbanded the unit. He did this by unlawfully leaking wiretaps that were done on the leader of the Scorpions at the time, Leonard McCarthy. These wiretaps, which were obtained unlawfully, were leaked selectively, not as full transcripts. This enabled the parties who leaked this information to mischaracterised many of the communications and relationships.

I was one of the people who appeared on those wiretaps because I remained an advisor to the National Prosecuting Authority and the Scorpions. Former President Zuma tried to characterise me as a CIA officer, which was, of course, an attempt to discredit the very valid charges that the Scorpions had brought against him and the very strong and compelling case that the Scorpions had made against him for public corruption.

Secondly, it was an attempt to mark me and my family as a form of intimidation and threat. In many parts of the world, if you are associated with an organisation like the CIA, you’re at risk from terrorists, criminals, and foreign intelligence services. So, it was also a way of trying to threaten and intimidate me and to mark me as a target for others. I’m sure this was done in close cooperation with the people I wrote about in a recent article in National Security News, the Russian military intelligence service, with whom President Zuma has had a long association. Zuma put a marker on me.

Having had the privilege of being involved with the creation of the Scorpions and having had the privilege to be part of this very important chapter in the history of South Africa’s new Democracy. Many, many good things have come out of it. I’ve worked with the most. I had the opportunity as a very young man who came from an Afrikaner family, who was not part of the liberation movements, but came from a very conservative Afrikaans family. I had an opportunity to work very closely with a number of the very impressive, senior ANC leaders that were part of Mandela’s government and who were wholeheartedly committed to South Africa.

On the negative side, the fact that the administration and President Zuma put a marker on me, and, and went after me, because of the unlawful wiretaps they did on land. McCarthy. Of course, that came at a great cost for me, came at a great cost for my family. These cases have long tails. If I now go around the world, when people Google my name, this will come up and bad people can draw their own conclusions from it, and it can pose a physical safety and security risk.

Role of Russian Intelligence in July 2021 riots

I think the case of Zuma is really important because it shows South Africans that no one is above the law and that we are all subject to the South African Constitution and the laws of the country. The rule of law applies and therefore, the case should be seen through. President Zuma himself has said he wants his day in court and he now has his day in court. But now it seems he doesn’t want his day in court because he’s been attacking the prosecutor and the independence of the prosecuting authorities.

When he was convicted for contempt of court and had to serve a prison sentence, his propaganda infrastructure, which includes and works very closely with the Russian GRU, tried to create an insurrection in the country. There was a huge protest that did enormous criminal damage to the country in the run-up to him going to prison. Now, of course, he’s no longer in prison, having brokered a deal in Moscow that sees him being released under the pretext that there are too many prisoners in prison at the moment. It will be interesting to see how many people were exempted on those grounds and have been released in similar circumstances to President Zuma. I guarantee you very few because this was a deal that was specially done for him to keep him out of prison.

MK Party is a proxy of the GRU, Russian Military Intelligence

This new political party, which South Africans think is a reference to the armed wing of the ANC, is the Russian designation for the subsidiary of a wholly-owned Russian company, and that is the Russian abbreviation for the Bolshevik Revolution. So, MK has a double meaning. We believe it might refer to the armed wing of the ANC, but it means something completely different in Moscow. Someone is having a chuckle back at the GRU headquarters about all of this. This new political party is the first party in South African democracy that’s been started by a foreign intelligence service. It’s a proxy of the GRU and is meant to be part of this new architecture that the GRU is building across Africa following the failure of the Wagner Group. I say the failure of the Wagner Group because ultimately, the Wagner group revolted against the Kremlin and marched against their masters in Moscow.

The GRU is a dangerous, predatory operation  meddling in US, Africa, Ukraine, war atrocities. The GRU is the Russian version of military intelligence, and it is one of the oldest and longest-established Russian intelligence agencies that form part of the Russian Armed Forces and the Russian Ministry of Defence. The GRU is one of the most dangerous and predatory intelligence organisations in the world…

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In Africa, they’ve become notorious because of their creation, which is called the Wagner Group, a Russian military company which was created by the GRU around the personality of Prigozhin, who was in turn assassinated by the GRU when he no longer became useful in September of last year, in the run-up to when Jacob Zuma was launching his political party in South Africa. After the vote, the group revolted against its masters and the Kremlin and marched on the Kremlin. The group set out on instructions from Putin to dismantle this organisation, and they were very active across Africa last year to visit all the countries where the Wagner Group had built territorial relationships and have now transformed the remnants of the Wagner Group into something called the Africa Corps, which sounds very familiar to us because that’s what the Nazis called the deployment in Africa.

Now we have another version of the Afrika Corps being deployed in Africa again, as the successor to the Wagner Group, which is under the control of the GRU. So the GRU controls all these private military companies. They control all the major arms deals that Russia is doing. They play a very active role in the sale and marketing of Russian nuclear technology. They play a devastatingly destructive role in Russia’s war on Ukraine and have been implicated in some of the worst war crimes and atrocities that have taken place in Ukraine. These are the types of people that Jacob Zuma is associated with, and whose influence he’s trying to extend in South Africa through his political party, MK.

Ramaphosa made an “unlawful deal” with the Russians during Russia Africa summit to keep Zuma out of prison

President Ramaphosa had to be part of the deal, which was brokered in Moscow while both of them were there for President Putin’s summit last year… Zuma, of course, went to Zimbabwe to promote this money laundering and sanction evasion scheme, which is paraded as a form of carbon-free trading. From there, he was whisked to Moscow for medical treatment, but really to go and meet with his masters. While he was at the summit, this deal was brokered that he would be released from prison and that he wouldn’t have to return to prison as the court ruled that he should go to prison. So, in defiance of South Africa’s rule of law, this unlawful deal was brokered. He was released under this pretext, unbeknown to the people who agreed that he would be released. There was a very specific reason why the Kremlin wanted Zuma to be released from prison. It was because he had an agreement with the GRU that he was going to launch a new political party.

There is no doubt GRU will try to interfere in South African elections 

Without a doubt, they will try and interfere in the South African elections. You will recall that the Western Cape legislature was severely hacked about a year ago, and that hack was attributed to come from Russia and was done with them by Russian hackers. And that’s just one example of how Russia’s already meddling in our elections. You will recall that, Jacob Zuma’s daughter was one of the first people in the world to use the social media handle to stand with Russia supporting the invasion of Ukraine and the war crimes of Russia’s committing in the Ukraine. 

They’ve built this social media infrastructure around the Zuma family, which they leverage for propaganda not only in South Africa and Africa but globally. Zuma’s recorded videos at their behest, in which he praises Putin, endorses the invasion of Ukraine, and perpetuates Russian disinformation like the fact that NATO is responsible for Russia’s invasion of Ukraine. Then secondly, the GRU will be hacking their enemies and people who they see are opposing their operations in Africa and South Africa, through their very extensive, hacking infrastructure. 

GRU interference: Western Cape Legislature, Port hacks, and Disruption of Covid vaccines

I think what happened to the Western Cape legislature is just one example. When Jacob Zuma orchestrated this insurrection in South Africa, at the same time, all the major ports got severely hacked and several of our ports were closed down for several days, disrupting the supply of Covid vaccines to South Africa. That is something that we saw the GRU doing worldwide, attacking hospitals and clinics in different democracies during Covid, also attacking the supply chain for the provision of Covid vaccines all around the world and targeting doctors and nurses and patients in Western democracies. 

Disinformation in Africa, expecting “all sort of malfeasance in democracy and our elections

More recently, we’ve seen other forms of disinformation that have been distributed by the GRU in Africa, including an allegation that the US is doing all kinds of sinister research in Africa, which is completely untrue and goes back to a disinformation operation that was run by Russian intelligence during the Cold War, claiming that Aids originated in Western democracies. So, yes, we must expect all manner of malfeasance, to try and meddle, with our democracy and with our upcoming elections. South Africans have to be extremely vigilant, very careful and critical in evaluating all the information that they receive, particularly on social media.

Illicit funding is going into ANC coffers

The big challenge we have in a democracy in South Africa is that there’s a lot of illicit political funding. Some of that illicit political funding popped up in President Ramaphosa’s sofa. But that’s just the tip of the iceberg. Most of the parties in parliament declare their political funding correctly, in a very detailed way, but the ANC does not. So there’s an enormous amount of illicit money going into the ANC coffers, which is never declared. Of course, the ANC declares the contributions it receives from the United Manganese of Kalahari. That has caused great controversy. But that’s just the tip of the iceberg. The real money doesn’t get declared and does not get disclosed. This is a really serious issue because illicit money comes from all kinds of sources, foreign governments, organised crime syndicates, and all manner of people. It goes undisclosed and undeclared. This is something that needs to be addressed.

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Begin fight back: Return Zuma to prison, must have ‘day in court’ for corruption

Zuma must be returned to prison, which will require great political will to fight organised crime. It will require great political will to fight organised crime. We must begin with the case against President Zuma, the prosecution against him, which was instituted by President Ramaphosa’s government and by the National Prosecuting Authority as part of his government. That case should be seen through and President Zuma must, as he’s requested, have his day in court. Secondly, he must return to prison. The Supreme Court has decided that the basis for his previous release was unlawful, and in line with the court’s decision, he must return to prison to serve his sentence. There begins the rule of law. That sends the message to everyone that all of us are subject to the rule of law. So, it’s really important that the government recommit to the fight against organised crime and recommit to protecting its own citizens because the greatest victims of organised crime are not the great corporations or the affluent people in the country. It’s the ordinary people who have nothing and who get abused and exploited and suffer tremendous violence as part of their daily lives. This is what we have to address as a matter of great urgency.

A new government can reinstate the Scorpions

The Scorpions were a hugely successful model for law enforcement and a great success story in police reform. It’s a proven model and that model can be reinstated. The new government, after the elections in May of this year, can reinstate a similar model. Whether it will be exactly like the Scorpions is hard to say. It was a very unique experience at the dawn of democracy when everyone was rallying to help South Africa. The US government took 50 young black graduates and put them through a full training course at the FBI Academy at Quantico. This group of young graduates were the first foreign attendees of the FBI Academy who were given a full training course as if they were FBI officers. Scotland Yard and the United Kingdom did the same thing. So this was a very unique experience. All of this was open; there was nothing clandestine about it. All of this was approved by President Mandela’s government. So that kind of unprecedented cooperation and support that South Africa received at the time, I’m afraid we’ve lost a lot of that goodwill with other democracies because of the conduct of this government.

My life is permanently at risk

When you get involved in fighting organised crime, when you get involved in counterintelligence and counter espionage, when you operate in this realm, your life is always at risk and it’s permanently at risk. Of course, you not only face the physical threat of assassination, but you also face the threat of disinformation and, in my case, some people in South Africa tried to turn the story of the Scorpions on its head by alleging that in some way, because I got wiretapped with Leonard McCarthy, I was complicit in, the undoing of the Scorpions. That’s a very good example of disinformation and the kind of disinformation that the Russian GRU are masters of disseminating. So, what you want is always at risk, but ultimately it is worth the cost because you are doing a service to others, and there’s no greater reward in life than being of service to others. 

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