The African National Congress ANC has raised their concern over series of meetings held at the US embassy in Pretoria, claiming that the US aimed at promoting regime change in South Africa.
Speaking to its supporters at a march on Friday, the party, through its secretary-general Gwede Mantashe said they all need to be vigilant against any form of anarchy and against people who are out there in a programme of regime change.
Mantashe further said that the party is aware of the regular meetings that has been held at the US embassy in Pretoria which aims at mobilizing people for regime change. He added that they are also aware of a programme that involved taking young people to the US for six weeks and on return, planting them “everywhere”, including universities.
“Those meetings in the American embassy are about nothing else other than mobilization for regime change. We’re aware of a programme that takes young people to the United States for six weeks, bring them back and plant them everywhere in the campuses and everywhere.”
To this assertion, the US ambassador to South Africa Patrick Gaspard, stated via Twitter that the statement was untrue and disappointing. “I’m so disappointed as I always imagined that if I organized a coup it would look like Mardi Gras – food, music, dance,” he said.
The party leaders have however, proposed to formally raise this concern to the public. “We will elevate this matter to a formal level,” ANC spokesman Keith Khoza said on Saturday.
Khoza further stated that Gaspard’s tweet will not stop the party from taking the issue seriously. “We will raise our concerns as a country whether they make a joke of it or not. If they (the US) had a concern and raised it with us, we wouldn’t treat it as a joke,” he said
The US ambassador to South Africa has rejected several attempts by the party to meet with him. According to a US embassy spokeswoman, Gaspard’s tweets sufficiently conveyed his response.
It appears Mantashe was referring to the Young African Leaders Initiative and the Mandela Washington Fellowship for Young African Leaders, a six-week programme in the US.
Meanwhile, Andrew Gasnola, 30, of Cape Town, who participated in the six-week program in 2014, said Mantashe’s conclusion on the US programme is far from the truth. He added that the programme did not target only South Africans, but young leaders from the entire African continent and most of those who partook in the programme were ANC members.