I am being demonised, says ex-spy boss Arthur Fraser
He insists the 'apartheid-style stratagems' against him are based on false claims designed to force him out of office
Former intelligence head Arthur Fraser is the victim of “apartheid-style stratagems” to force him out of office, he says in court papers defending his recent appointment as prisons boss.
Allegations levelled against him by the Democratic Alliance – which wants his appointment declared unlawful – were “Stratcom machinations akin to apartheid-style stratagems designed to poison the political climate and the public perception against selected individuals”.
President Cyril Ramaphosa has defended his decision to move Fraser, a longtime trusted official to former president Jacob Zuma, to the position of national commissioner of correctional services, despite the inspector-general of intelligence accusing Fraser of trying to block him from investigating evidence of wrongdoing against him.
Fraser says the claims against him are false, politically motivated and designed to force him out of office.
“I submit that the allegations against me are an attempt to besmirch my character and are part of the stratagem to create a narrative that seeks to demonise me and create a basis for a conclusion that I should not serve in the public service in any capacity,” he says in court papers.
Author Jacques Pauw’s book The President’s Keepers alleged that Fraser ran a potentially treasonous parallel intelligence network from his own home, used a slush fund to buy luxury vehicles, and used his position to benefit his family members.
In a response to a DA case that alleges he is unfit to hold office, Fraser has slammed Pauw’s book as “a work of fiction” and claims it is part of a “well-orchestrated political campaign mounted for narrow political purpose”.
He vehemently denies any wrongdoing, and he has Ramaphosa’s support.
Nearly a decade ago, Fraser was named by The Mail & Guardian as the man who had leaked the “Spy Tapes” recordings to Zuma’s lawyers, a move that resulted in the corruption prosecution against Zuma being dropped by the National Prosecuting Authority. That decision was later overturned in court.
Zuma appointed Fraser as the director-general of the State Security Agency in 2016, making him one of the most influential figures in the country’s intelligence networks. This was despite the fact that Fraser had been investigated over his involvement in the intelligence service’s legally questionable Principal Agent Network.
The SSA’s own investigations reportedly found that Fraser was one of 15 people against whom “there is sufficient proof to institute criminal investigations” over that project, but Fraser has never been charged. He maintains he wasn’t given an opportunity to address the claims against him.
While he maintains there is no truth to any of the allegations against him, Fraser says he does “not deem it appropriate that I be the one setting out the details of a project that is classified and whose details are within the province of the State Security Agency”. He insists, however, that the project was “duly authorised and approved”.
In April 2018, inspector-general of intelligence Setlhomamaru Dintwe took Fraser to court after the spy boss revoked his security clearance – while he was investigating what he described as serious “prima facie evidence” of wrongdoing against him, linked to the PAN Project.
In the middle of that court battle, which has yet to be fully resolved, Ramaphosa announced that he had appointed Fraser as national commissioner of correctional services, a powerful position previously held by axed SA Revenue Service commissioner Tom Moyane.
The DA is now fighting to have that decision declared unlawful and set aside, on the basis that Fraser is not a fit and proper person to hold that crucial post.
Ramaphosa disagrees. He filed an affidavit opposing the DA’s case, in which he says there is no evidence that Fraser is “not of good character”, and denies there was any basis for him to suspend him in the wake of Dintwe’s court action, or the allegations of corruption levelled against him in Pauw’s book.
“The inspector-general’s investigation was a revisiting of old allegations, which predated Mr Fraser’s appointment as director-general of the SSA, and which had been investigated by the previous inspector-general,” he said.