McBride is back from the naughty corner after 22 months in the cold

Minister in the Presidency Khumbudzo Ntshavheni has lifted the suspension of State Seciruty Agency’s (SSA)foreign branch chief Robert McBride and reinstated him to his post after spending 22 months out in the cold.

McBride was reinstated to his cushy job last week, just when his contract was on the verge of expiring this month.

His suspension was a thorny subject in Musanda, the agency’s headquarters commonly referred to as “the farm”, with SSA director-general, ambassador Thembisile Majola, alleged to have threatened to resign if McBride was reinstated.

McBride’s spectacular comeback means the ball is now in Majola’s court.

In April, Majola told Sunday World that McBride’s suspension and related matters remained open to a disciplinary process and possible litigation.

She said the allegations against him were yet to be proved, and therefore, any comment from SSA would jeopardise its case and violate McBride’s rights.

Former acting SSA director general ambassador Gab Msimang suspended McBride in July 2021, but the disciplinary case was never entertained
after McBride refused to sign the suspension letter.

This despite nothing in law stopping the SSA from proceeding with its disciplinary hearing.

Ntshavheni’s spokesperson Sipho Mbele confirmed McBride is keeping his nose to the grind stone. “I can confirm that he is back, but I cannot comment beyond that,” Mbele said yesterday when quizzed by Sunday World.

 SSA insiders also told Sunday World McBride’s return was long in the making, because it was difficult to pin him down.

President Cyril Ramaphosa also had to grant approval for the suspension to be lifted.

In McBride’s favour, prominent political figures in the governing ANC also pushed for his reinstatement. They claimed proper processes had not been followed when he was iced and booted out of office.

His removal from office followed a diplomatic embarrassment earlier in 2021 when South African spies were left stranded after a failed operation in Mozambique’s Cabo Delgado.

The Mozambican authorities were allegedly unaware of the operation and registered their displeasure with their South African counterparts.

At least four South African spooks were part of that bungled mission to locate insurgents in Cabo Delgado at the height of terrorist attacks in 2021.

They were captured by Mozambican security forces, had their passports and equipment, including drones, confiscated, and were left stranded for nine days in Maputo.

The team lost contact with the SSA, and their whereabouts were unknown. They returned home safely following former SSA boss Ayanda Dlodlo’s

The SSA blamed McBride for the faux pas and suspended him.

Earlier this year, McBride was offered redeployment to the department of defence and military veterans.

He was earmarked to become the department’s acting director general.

In April, Sunday World reported that McBride was open to the move, but only if his suspension was revoked. This was to ensure he did not leave the SSA with a dark cloud over his head.

SSA insiders said then that Majola would have none of it. “She doesn’t want him to return to work. McBride doesn’t have to sit at home. His case collapsed a long time ago, and he is still paid his full salary,” said a spook.

McBride is a former of uMkhonto weSizwe combatant. He also served as Ekurhuleni Metro police chief and head of the police watchdog, Ipid.

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