13/03/2017 15:37 SAST | Updated 13/03/2017 21:00 SAST

ANC Might Call For Tougher Sentences For Foreign Agents And a Tighter Leash for Diplomats

Detractors want South Africa’s food, land and energy plans, ANC says.

Gallo Images / Nardus Engelbrecht
South Africa's energy plans are on foreign spies' shopping lists, says the ANC in one of its policy discussion documents.

South Africa is still a relatively stable country, but don't sleep too easy because foreign spooks are here, ready to pounce on unsuspecting citizens to stop the African National Congress (ANC).

There are also internal factors that threaten our stability.

The ANC in its discussion document on peace and stability, which will be debated at the party's policy conference in June, says there is a concerted effort by "foreign state and non-state actors who have launched an aggressive onslaught (on) foreign liberation movements in our region, the ANC is not an exception".

The ANC says its security assessment identified internal security challenges such as poverty, unemployment and inequality as well as slowing economic growth.

Foreign agents are out to get us

But its document pays the most attention to the activities of what it labels "the Foreign Intelligence Services (FIS)" as an "overarching threat undermining our national security and national interest".

These services in the past year "continued their efforts, in close collaboration with negative domestic forces, to undermine our democratic and constitutional advances. The modus operandi of FISs is through penetration, influencing, manipulation and ultimately subversion in the quest to advance and promote their national interests.

"These attacks may result in the diversion of governance and the possibility that the broader purpose of government will be hijacked by those with ulterior agendas, sectarian interests and nefarious intent."

The document warns that, if the state is weakened, "it will be increasingly vulnerable to institutional penetration by foreign or hostile forces".

So, how do these foreign services operate?

Their main strategy is "to mobilise the unsuspecting masses of this country to reject legally constituted structures and institutions in order to advance unconstitutional regime change".

The party further says the alignment of the FIS agendas of the and "negative domestic forces" threatens to "undermine the authority and security of the state".

These forces also like to use the mass media, non-governmental organisations and community-based organisations, foreign and multinational companies, funding of opposition activities, the judiciary, religious and student organisations, infiltration and recruitment in key government departments, placement of non-South Africans in key positions in departments, prominent influential persons and the putting of "covert intelligence networks and covert action on our soil".

The document concludes that the foreign agents are out to stop the ANC-led government from doing its work where its policies run counter to "their policies and strategic objectives".

They also prevent the government from "adopting independent positions in regional and international forums".

What is it that these foreign agents want?

They want what we're having. Says the ANC document: "Given our influence on the global stage, our geo-political positioning, our land, food and future energy plans, FISs will continue to prioritise South Africa for intelligence collection.

"As the gateway to the African continent, our detractors believe that their efforts to control and manipulate South Africa will enable them to control the whole African continent, advance their agendas and expand their spheres of influence."

What does the ANC want to do about it?

Some of the points the documents propose to discuss include imposing stronger criminal sentences to serve as deterrent. It also says diplomatic immunity and privileges could create "a loophole and opportunities for exploitation by diplomats. There is need to tighten the standard operation procedures to avoid abuse."

There was also a need "to deal with the high trend of espionage, subversion, propaganda and information peddling by those controlling the public spaces".