EXPELLED ANC Youth League president Julius Malema plans to destabilise South Africa, it has been claimed.
Intelligence gathered by several agencies purports to show that Malema has a well-orchestrated plan to "sponsor an Arab Spring” in the country, that includes targeting the military, intelligence agencies, police, metro police, universities and the mines.
SA Security Forces Union president Bheki Mvovo said yesterday that by exploiting the plight of soldiers and disempowered workers, Malema had several targets in his sights.
"It is a systematic attempt to destabilise the country – this is the very real danger that South Africa is now facing,” Mvovo said.
"This is not the way to do things. It is opportunistic and dangerous.
"We are discouraging our members from attending such future meetings because he is not genuine about his intentions.”
A police union insider, who asked not to be named, said Malema's strategy included attacking unions close to the government by appearing to be sympathetic to disgruntled civil servants.
Brian Dube, spokesman for the inspector-general of intelligence, refused to be drawn on "speculation” about Malema's intentions.
National police spokesman Brigadier Phuti Setati said the police had not received information on the allegations.
Unisa criminologist Rudolf Zinn said the main concern was that Malema would, by targeting key elements in the safety and security services, attempt to cause the collapse of government-controlled institutions.
"As far as the military is concerned, the grievances raised by the soldiers make them susceptible to his intentions,” Zinn said.
"The police and the intelligence services might be different because they do not have the same level of grievances.”
The warning was given on the day Malema met a small group of soldiers in Lenasia, south of Johannesburg. The meeting was monitored by heavily armed police who blocked off several roads. A helicopter circled overhead.
Private Sammy Segone, a leader of the Concerned Soldiers' Association, stationed at 21 Infantry Battalion in Lenasia, warned the government that the disgruntled soldiers were a "dangerous trade”.
"We are equipped and are not afraid to die. This is not a joke. By being here, we have chosen a side.”
Soldiers were suspended from duty after marching on the Union Buildings during an illegal strike in 2009. After several court cases, more than 1000 soldiers are still on special leave awaiting military trial.
"We need to expose the corruption and racism which is destroying the organisation,” Segone said.
"We are not here to destroy South Africa. We took an oath to protect this country but we will not follow illegal orders aimed at destroying South Africa.”
Fellow association leader Private Sipho Swelinkomo said: "Our message is that there are two ways of doing things – either the right way or the military way,” hinting they would take up arms if necessary.
A senior soldier with links to military intelligence, sent to the meeting to monitor the situation along with plain-clothed colleagues and undercover police officers, said the defence force was ready to act if necessary.
"What is happening is dangerous. Once actions are unleashed, there is no turning back,” he said.
In his address, Malema again slammed the government – and President Jacob Zuma in particular.
"What is it that is going right in this country? Everything is collapsing,” he said.
"All we are seeing is politicians becoming richer and the poor workers becoming poorer.”
Presidential spokesman Mac Maharaj refused to comment. "We won't legitimise stories ... by getting me or the Presidency to comment.
"You [journalists] must pay the price and take responsibility for writing stories saying that South Africa is a banana republic because you might believe it,” Maharaj said.
Meanwhile, the ANC in the Eastern Cape has lashed out at Malema, his sidekicks [Floyd Shivambu and Sindiso Magaqa] and their "faceless funders”, saying the violent protest crusade they had instigated was an "act of mutiny of the highest order that has no place in our free democratic society”.
Provincial ANC spokesman Mlibo Qoboshiyane said: "Their involvement in these illegal and violent strikes in a number of mines in South Africa, their call for monthly strikes in these mines and their attempt to meet with the armed forces are a serious threat to peace, security and stability in our country.
"As Malema and his enthusiasts go from mine to mine recklessly promising workers everything under the sun and inciting them to go on illegal strike, scores of workers will lose their jobs while they [Malema and his team] enjoy extravagant lifestyles in the northern suburbs of Johannesburg.
"Malema is a political malcontent who only cares about garnering personal riches in order to imbibe expensive alcohol and doesn't care about the needs of the workers,” Qoboshiyane said.
"If Malema cared so much about the plight of the people, why has he been mum about the [text]book situation in his home province, Limpopo?”
He also called on Malema to stop wearing clothes with the ANC logo as he was no longer a member.