Five state ‘security threats’ that worried the Zuma administration

Former minister David Mahlobo testifies at state capture inquiry

09 April 2021 - 15:27
Former minister of state security David Mahlobo said under former president Jacob Zuma 'there was concern about the activities in SA of foreign intelligence services advancing their interests'. File photo.
Former minister of state security David Mahlobo said under former president Jacob Zuma 'there was concern about the activities in SA of foreign intelligence services advancing their interests'. File photo.
Image: Trevor Samson

The Jacob Zuma administration was concerned about five areas of domestic and foreign threats against the country during the time David Mahlobo was minister of state security.

Mahlobo, testifying at the state capture inquiry on Friday, said four domestic threats and one foreign had been identified in a classified “national intelligence estimate”.

Threats to the state’s authority

Mahlobo said the number one domestic threat was events and happenings that had the potential to undermine the functioning of the state.

They included elements of violent protests, violent industrial actions, taxi wars, violent protests in the education sector and the activities of private security companies.

“There is something very interesting to note on this first one. There is always an adjective that has been used because protesting is a constitutional right,” he said.

“But there is always a qualification ‘violent, violent, violent.’”

SA’s territorial integrity

This threat, Mahlobo said, was also classified under domestic. It involved the country’s porous borders, illegal migration and xenophobic attacks against foreign nationals.

Threat to wellbeing and safety of South Africans

Mahlobo said: “Those are the issues of want - your water, food, energy security, terrorism and extremism, gangsterism and narcotics.”

Threat to SA’s economy

The main concern in this regard, Mahlobo revealed, was the scourge of corruption. But illegal mining was also classified under the same umbrella, including wildlife poaching and the theft of ferrous and non-ferrous materials.

Foreign threats

Mahlobo said there was concern about the activities in SA of foreign intelligence services advancing their interests.

The government of the time was of the view that foreign intelligence services were working with “negative domestic forces” to scupper the ability of the state to govern the country.

Who were these “negative domestic forces”, asked evidence leader advocate Paul Pretorius.

“It is not a specific statement. Not everybody is a friend to SA. We do have enemies and that is how intelligence works. Even our own friends with whom we share certain things, they will never hesitate on matters of pursuing their national interest, including matters of dominance or economic advantage,” said Mahlobo.

“The duty for intelligence is to influence, get information so you can have an advantage. South Africa is not a small country and is very strategic in terms of its location, in terms of its resources and in terms of influence and leadership both at home and abroad.

“[Foreign intelligence services] must work on certain people so that wittingly or unwitting these people must pursue their national objectives.

“Nobody is immune from being recruited. They can recruit a minister, a president, a judge and a parliamentarian as long as they know the information and influence they need.”

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