Opposition parties‚ NGOs using student protests to push regime change agenda: Mahlobo

Wits student clash with police. Picture Credit: Xanderleigh Dookey
Wits student clash with police. Picture Credit: Xanderleigh Dookey

State Security Minister David Mahlobo has taken a swipe at opposition political parties and non-governmental organizations (NGOs)‚ accusing them of capitalising on student protests to score political points.

“Students are raising a genuine concern around the issue of quality education. However‚ the genuine struggle for students get exploited [because] political parties want to come in and score political points on a matter of national interest‚” said Mahlobo on Monday.

He was speaking at an event at the Institute for Security Studies under the theme Can State Intelligence help prevent violent protests?

The State Security Agency (SSA) was recently tasked with gathering intelligence on those involved in violent protests.

“Education is what builds a society‚ but because politics is sometimes cheap‚ other people use those things against you instead of saying what can we do to to actually increase our knowledge base‚” said Mahlobo.

Turning to NGOs‚ Mahlobo accused some of being‚ “funny people who come... and want to do some regime change“.

“We have an NGO which funds students and come in the middle of the night and say ‘we must continue with the protest’. NGOs are so important but immediately they [start] doing funny things‚ they are no longer supporting the country to grow‚” said Mahlobo.

He was referring to the Right To Know (R2K) organisation‚ which has the stated aim of working to protect and advance the right to protest.

R2K has said in the past that the constitution protects the right to protest‚ peacefully and unarmed.

Mahlobo earlier on Monday confirmed he was considering suing for defamation following allegations that he is linked to an illegal rhino horn trafficker.

This comes after the airing of an Al Jazeera documentary‚ called The Poachers Pipeline‚ which reported that a “rhino horn trafficker bragged to Al Jazeera about his close connections to Mahlobo‚ who runs the country’s intelligence services“.

“I have taken legal action. The allegations are very serious and I have spoken to the police commissioner and we have launched a formal inquiry‚” Mahlobo said.

“If these allegations are being made against me‚ they are very serious for someone in my position. Secondly‚ I have also asked that the activities that he is allegedly [involved] in‚ law enforcement agencies should be able to take action‚” he told SAfm’s AM Live show with Sakina Kamwendo. — TMG Digital