Zwelinzima Vavi File picture: Leon Lestrade/Independent Media

Johannesburg – Newly-elected South African Federation of Trade Unions (Saftu) general secretary Zwelinzima Vavi on Wednesday accused State Security minister David Mahlobo of misleading the public with claims of a regime-change agenda.

This after Mahlobo alleged that a number of foreign governments were using “underhanded tactics” to remove the democratically elected government of South Africa.

Part of their plan was to use NGOs and opposition parties.

In his budget vote speech in Parliament on Tuesday, Mahlobo said there were many ways foreign governments were pursuing a regime-change agenda.

“Their general strategy (was to) use a range of role-players to promote their agenda, and these include certain sections of mainstream media; certain non-governmental organisations and community-based organisations; foreign and multinational companies; funding of opposition activities, infiltration and recruitment in key government departments; religious bodies; prominent influential persons; and intelligence networks and covert action on our soil,” he said.

In an interview on PowerFM, Vavi said allegations of a regime-change agenda were misleading and an attempt to turn the country into an authoritarian state.

“I think these claims are an attempt by the government to justify taking the country into an authoritarian state whereby the disappearance and deaths of people will be justified on the basis that NGOs and certain individuals are plotting with imperialist powers to bring about regime change.”

Vavi said that similar claims were made against him in 2013, where he was accused of being behind the Marikana massacre as well as driving a regime-change agenda.

Vavi said that it was only after the matter was reported to authorities that it emerged that the campaign was the work of “some information peddler”.

Responding to this, Mahlobo conceded that while there were rogue elements within the intelligence department hell-bent on driving their own agenda, the reality was that no regime change could be effected except within an agreed-upon system.

“No government can claim authority except through the will of the people during elections," he stressed.

Furthermore, it was a fact that there were NGOs clouded with controversy over how they were being funded.

“Right now, it’s a fact that there are NGOs constantly in court but yet no one questions who’s funding [their legal campaigns],” he said.