Numsa takes on state security over ‘rogue’ report

Metalworkers union Numsa is planning a march to the department of state security headquarters in Pretoria to protest against what it calls a “rogue intelligence report”, which alleges that Numsa plans to destabilise the government. 

The union also wants answers as to why its leader’s phone was tapped, why mysterious cars have been following its office bearers and why state security agents have been trying to recruit Numsa shop stewards in a bid to get insider information on its plan to form a United Front movement.

In an eight-page rebuttal to the report, which was leaked to the media and distributed to Numsa members by anonymous sources, the union expresses concern over the “interesting similarities” the report has to a statement the South African Communist Party (SACP) issued regarding Numsa. 

Numsa and the SACP have been at odds publicly over the former’s plans to launch a socialist political party under the banner United Front later this month.

Plot against the state
The so-called intelligence document, titled Exposed: Secret Regime Change Plot to Destabilise South Africa, identifies Numsa general secretary Irvin Jim and deputy general secretary Karl Cloete as leading the plot against the state.

It was supposedly written by “concerned members within Numsa” who disagree with the broader union leadership’s plan to form the United Front.

“The language we have seen in this rogue report is all too familiar with what we [have] seen before in ANC statements and SACP statements,” Cloete told journalists in Johannesburg on Wednesday. 

In its augmented central committee statement released last month, the SACP makes a call to “expose the regime change agenda”. 

“The CC [central committee] noted that in the recent period, following the ANC-led alliance’s renewed electoral mandate with an overwhelming 62% majority in the May elections, the anti-majoritarian regime-change agenda emanating from disparate quarters has been intensified,” SACP general secretary Blade Nzimande said at the time. 

Links to ANC, SACP
Now Numsa leaders say they have reason to believe that intelligence officials with links to the ANC and the SACP are behind the document. 

“There are those who work hand in glove with individuals whose loyalty lies with the SACP and the ANC … Deployment works on the basis of absolute loyalty,” Cloete said. 

SACP spokesperson Alex Mashilo was unavailable for comment.

The document’s author is John Carelse, but vigorous attempts by the union to find out who this is have been unsuccessful, leaving some to believe the name is a pseudonym.

A senior official from the State Security Agency said management only became aware of the purported intelligence document when it was leaked to the ANC’s headquarters, Luthuli House. 

State Security Agency spokesperson Brian Dube would not comment on the matter. “We are awaiting formal correspondence from them,” he said.

Complaint to be launched
Cloete said Numsa would be launching a complaint with the inspector general of intelligence, advocate Faith Radebe, and would ask her to investigate the source of the document. 

“We will ask her to ascertain whether there is any surveillance of Numsa office bearers, leading officials and a range of ‘friends of Numsa’. [Also] to establish whether there is any interception of voice or electronic messages from Numsa office bearers, leading officials and a range of ‘friends of Numsa’,” he said. 

Numsa said it would seek an urgent meeting with State Security Minister David Mahlobo to “demand that no legal union and political work is criminalised”.

“What they are accusing us of is treason. We can’t take it lightly,” Jim said. 

Some of the people named in the document as “plotters” include former intelligence minister Ronnie Kasrils, Professor Chris Malekane, Professor Peter Jordi and Moeletsi Mbeki, brother of former president Thabo Mbeki. Various international “plotters” are named, from countries including Germany, Venezuela and the Philippines.

The document alleges that the role players want to effect regime change and “influence and confuse South African communities using socialist rhetoric”. These “plotters” want to address inequality using “forceful methods” such as “land grabs” and the destabilisation of the mining sector, the document alleges. 

As “proof” of this, the document says those named have used “international experts” on sociopolitical issues to endorse their views. “These foreign role players were invited to Numsa’s symposium of left parties from August 7 to 10 in Benoni, Gauteng.”

Cloete said the “peddling” of so-called intelligence reports puts the lives of social activists in danger. 

“As Numsa, we have informed those listed as being part of the manufactured plot about the sinister document and are working with them to determine an appropriate response.” – Additional reporting by Sarah Evans.

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