17/05/2017 20:16 SAST | Updated 17/05/2017 20:16 SAST

R2K Tells Spy Minister To Put Up Or Shut Up

David Mahlobo said civil society is trying to undermine government. Whatever.

Gallo Images
PRETORIA, SOUTH AFRICA � JULY 3: South African Minister of State Security David Mahlobo at the SADC Double Troika summit on Lesotho on July 3, 2015 in Pretoria, South Africa. The summit is expected to find a solution to Lesotho�s political crisis. (Photo by Gallo Images / Sunday Times / Simphiwe Nkwali)

State Security Minister David Mahlobo must either give evidence or stop making "bogus claims" of a "regime change plot", lobby group Right to Know said on Wednesday.

"This is now a regular claim of the minister. To this day, no evidence for the claims has been presented. No persons have been arrested," said the R2K's Murray Hunter in a statement.

Mahlobo told journalists on Tuesday ahead of his department's budget vote in Parliament that there were civil society groups, media organisations and opposition parties that were participating in a plot to undermine government.

However, he did not provide names.

R2K has labelled Mahlobo's claims an attempt to cast suspicion on those mobilising against corrupt government leaders and a failure to deliver on the public's basic needs.

"The emerging pattern of paranoia and suspicion in South African politics and public life make it equally impossible to take the minister's claims at face value," Hunter said.

Harassing activist movements

The lobby group said it will write to the chair of Parliament's intelligence committee, Charles Nqakula, to request that Parliament holds open hearings on allegations of regime change that have been levelled against several organisations including themselves, the National Union of Metal Workers, AMCU, Treatment Action Campaign, Abahlali baseMjondolo and popular campaigns like #FeesMustFall.

Former Public Protector Thuli Mandonsela was also accused of being a CIA spy.

"This kind of paranoid and accusatory language has become an increasing feature of South Africa's public life," Hunter said.

She said there was growing evidence that intelligence structures were monitoring and harassing activist movements, civil society formations as well as investigative journalists.

In April, the Amabhungane Centre for Investigative Journalism filed an application with the North Gauteng High Court in Pretoria to challenge government on the law around spying on South Africans.

In its application, it argued that RICA is unconstitutional because it does not notify the subject that their communications are being intercepted.

R2K said it has also filed a series of complaints to the Office of the Inspector General of Intelligence against harassment. -- News24Wire