Spy chief and former ambassador Thembisile Majola has quit her powerful post at the State Security Agency (SSA) after she struggled to secure a sit-down with President Cyril Ramaphosa.
Majola not only felt overlooked and her contribution under-valued, but she also found her lack of access to Ramaphosa frustrating and disruptive to her ability to implement the vision she had for the SSA.
Consequently, she resigned from her position as the agency director general (DG), and is serving her notice, which expires at the end of this month.
Her premature exit closes the chapter on a turbulent tenure at SSA that saw her request to leave on a number of occasions before Ramaphosa acceded.
Sunday World learnt that Majola first expressed her desire to leave under former minister Mondli Gungubele. At that time the dispute was over the return of suspended foreign branch head Robert McBride.
“The second time she expressed her desire to leave was in April. This time the issue was whether the staff for the current Minister Khumbudzo Ntshavheni should use the Musanda (SSA) offices,” said an insider with knowledge of the matter.
“Her departure had long been agreed with the president and a timeline was set to avoid a disruptive process,” another insider said.
But there would have been more pressure for her exit after a whistleblower in July – months after Majola’s formal resignation in April – submitted a protected disclosure complaint against her to the joint standing committee on intelligence.
The allegations included that Majola had business relations with former DG Sonto Kudjoe. Majola allegedly hampered the Independent Directorate’s investigations into fraud allegations against Kudjoe.
The complainant, whose name is known to Sunday World, also alleged that Majola undermined the forensic probe by a firm called Ligwa.
The company was brought in to investigate allegations of malfeasance as recommended by the high-level panel review report of former minister Sydney Mufamadi.
Furthermore, the complainant alleged that the agency abused temporary advance payments as soft loans.
Ntshavheni’s spokesperson, Sipho Mbele, said: “It is important to point out that, before this minister was appointed to this portfolio, the director-general had resigned, and the president had declined her request”.
“It is further important to point out that director-general Majola resigned sometime in April 2023, and the president accepted her resignation.
“To ensure stability, the president and the director-general agreed on a planned exit period, which mutually agreed upon her date of exit as 30 November 2023, as per the media statement of the president,” Mbele added.
He said the relationship between the minister and the DG had at all material times remained professional.
“On complaints directed at other institutions, the minister can only comment on matters directed at her”.