S.Africa spy agency threatens to seek Zuma book ban
South Africa's spy agency threatened on Friday to seek a banning order for a newly released book that makes a series of corruption allegations against President Jacob Zuma.
The State Security Agency issued a legal letter, seen by AFP, accusing author Jacques Pauw of disclosing “the identities of the many members and sources of the agency”, “intelligence collection methods” and “intelligence gathered”.
The book, titled “The President’s Keepers”, alleges that large amounts of public money was transferred into the bank accounts of bogus spies.
It paints a picture of Zuma’s scandal-tainted presidency as corrupt, incompetent and nepotistical.
The book also chronicles how the head of state has purged his adversaries in the political and security establishment since coming to power in 2009.
The book will come as an unwelcome distraction for Zuma who is fighting for political survival after a string of allegations linking him to a controversial business family accused robbing of state-run enterprises.
In a letter to the publishers, the spy agency claims the book is “replete with inaccuracies” and contains details “that are in contravention of the Intelligence Service Act”.
They also demanded the retraction of allegedly inaccurate sections, and those which could compromise agent safety, operational methods or classified information.
The cease and desist order said that intelligence officials would seek a banning order and press for criminal action if the book was not pulled from bookshops within five days.
Jean Pieters, a spokeswoman for Tafelberg publishing, said the book which was released on Sunday would remain on sale while the company consulted its lawyers.
“The book has not been pulled off the shelves, and our lawyers are dealing with the matter,” she said.
The country’s taxman separately said it was taking legal action against Pauw and the Sunday Times weekly after the paper published an article based on the book.
It said that the article made allegations that the country’s revenue chief, Tom Moyane, had helped Zuma to dodge tax.
Zuma was forced to deny in parliament on Thursday that he had also been bankrolled by a businessman during his time in office following a question by an opposition lawmaker.
The president has weathered several corruption storms during his time in government and is currently facing the prospect that prosecutors could reinstate 783 graft charges relating to a 1990s arms deal.