Pieter van der Merwe

State Security Minister David Mahlobo has once again warned of foreign forces set on undermining South Africa’s democracy. While these threats remain a fiction in the absence of proof, the South African state could pose a bigger risk to the country. “We are monitoring everything,” said Mahlobo. He was briefing journalists before tabling his department’s 2017/18 budget before Parliament. Admittedly, a vague statement as it is unclear what “everything” entails. But the remark is equally worrying.

Mahlobo’s need to monitor all in sundry stems from his claims that the state and the South African public face a myriad of threats — both foreign and domestic. These range from cyber bullying, to cyber fraud and terrorism, to underhanded attempts aimed at unconstitutional regime change.

While the term “everything” remains undefined, Mahlobo gave some indication as to what it entails and, whether purposefully or not, whom. This was revealed when he informed the national legislature of the “forces” committed to “undermine [South Africa’s] democratic and constitutional advances.” Mahlobo said these forces advance their interests through sections of the media, various organisations, the funding of “opposition activities”, and by infiltrating “key government departments” – a claim the Right to Know Campaign said Mahlobo needs to prove or “stop making bogus claims”…