Throwing shade? : Jacob Zuma’s government has been telling the US, UK and Australia to stay out of its business on security matters. (Photo: Linh Do via https://www.flickr.com/photos/lmdo/)
A hot-blooded diplomatic spat seems to be in the offing in the wake of the decision by the United States, the United Kingdom and Australia to issue terror alerts to their citizens regarding travel to South Africa. All three have warned that the so-called Islamic State is planning terror attacks on prominent locations where tourist are likely to gather in Johannesburg and Pretoria over the Ramadhan period.
In a pointed official reply, South Africa has criticised the three for issuing the alerts saying they are based on faulty intelligence obtained from a single “walk-in” source. Clayson Monyela of the SA Department of International Relations and Cooperation, in a statement that has been widely circulated in the South African press, didn’t hold back in his criticism of the decision to issue the alerts. He even went so far as to accuse the three countries of attempting to paint the South African government in a bad light.
“The information provided as a basis for the latest terror alerts on South Africa has been found to be very sketchy. On closer examination‚ we have found the information to be dubious‚ unsubstantiated and provided by a ‘walk-in’ source based on questionable conclusions,” said Monyela.
“It is within this context that the South African government rejects attempts by foreign countries to influence‚ manipulate or control our country’s counter terrorism work. We reject attempts to generate perceptions of government ineptitude‚ alarmist impressions and public hysteria on the basis of a questionable single source,” he added.
Monyela also stressed that if there were any credible information about an imminent terror attack, the people of South Africa should rest assured that they would hear it from their government first.
“Government wishes to reiterate that the security of all people in South Africa remains its top priority. The security services will continue to remain vigilant at all times. Should the need arise‚ the South African government will be the first to inform the public about any imminent threat.”
That Monyela would attack the three “friendly” countries so unsparingly speaks to how unhappy the South African government is over the terror warnings. In fact, if its official Twitter page is any gauge, the SA government seems to have been quietly stewing over the terror alerts since at least Monday.
The SA government seems to have been quietly stewing over the terror alerts since at least Monday.
The US stands firm
The US has already shot back. In a series of tweets posted on the official Twitter page of its Embassy in South Africa, the US says it sticks by its assessment of the likelihood of a terror attack. As far as it’s concerned, the terror alerts are based on “specific, credible and non-counterable threat information.”