McBride suspended as SSA foreign branch head

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Robert McBride, head of the foreign branch of the State Security Agency (SSA), has been suspended prompting the Democratic Alliance’s (DA) shadow minster for Ayanda Dlodlo’s area of responsibility to say it happened “in a fog of secrecy”.

SSA spokesman Mava Scott is reported by Johannesburg digital daily TimesLive as confirming McBride’s suspension saying further details cannot be divulged “in line with the confidentiality requirement between employer and employee”.

The publication speculates McBride’s suspension could be related to a failed SSA operation in Mozambique during insurgent attacks on Palma earlier this year. Reports have it South African agents were stranded in Maputo for nine days before Ministerial intervention opened the way for them to return.

Outspoken DA shadow SSA minister Dianne Kohler Barnard wants to know – along with the rest of South Africa, according to a statement – “whether or not probably the most suspended man in the country has blunders again or alternatively, stirred up his enemies again”.

She goes back to when McBride headed the Ekurhuleni Metro police and was dismissed for allegedly crashing his car while apparently driving drunk. “Then there was his suspension from his position as head of the Independent Police Investigative Directorate (IPID) – overturned in court – followed by the evisceration of his reputation by fellow ANC members of the Police Portfolio Committee as (Minister of Police) Bheki Cele allegedly wanted him out. Those so-called hearings saw him refused a second term as that entity’s head,” Kohler Barnard’s statement reads.

“As ever South Africa will be left guessing as the SSA closes ranks.”