We are ready to defend SA against regime change - security minister

Cape Town - South Africa will be able to defend its sovereignty and people if there is ever an attempt at unconstitutional regime change, State Security Minister David Mahlobo said on Tuesday.

He was responding to a claim by African National Congress secretary general Gwede Mantashe at a march last week that the United States meets daily to advance regime change in South Africa.

- Read more: ANC following up on US 'regime change' concerns

"We are not an exception, we are not immune [to regime change]," said Mahlobo in response to a question at a briefing by Parliament's cluster committee on international trade and co-operation and state security.

Changing a government by unconstitutional means took different forms and could be done by individuals using various mechanisms, such as the media.

"In South Africa we are always alert. There are certain activities that we always keep an eye on," he said.

There was always the temptation by foreign intelligence agents to usher in their own agenda, he added.

"If anyone seeks to undermine South Africa, we will be able to follow you. We will not allow South Africa to become a ground for regime change.

"We will be able to defend the State."

He said relations with the US were "very strong, very cordial" as evidenced in the conclusion of the very difficult talks over the Africa Growth and Opportunity Act.

- More: US ambassador makes light of 'regime change' claims

He added that concerns had already been raised with the US over its Young African Leaders Initiative (YALI) student exchange programme, with African leaders saying it would be better if the US interacted with the students through governments, and not directly.

There had been suggestions that the YALI is being used to train South Africans as agents.

Chairperson of the committee, Minister of Environmental Affairs Edna Molewa, said it was hoped there would be talks with the US Embassy and she wondered why a member of the diplomatic corps had not already driven over to the ANC's headquarters Luthuli House to talk about the issue.

"That engagement to clarify those things will still happen - at the right time," she said.

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