OPINION by Andriques Che Petersen
In the year 2015, where one can find out what their favourite celebrity had for lunch yesterday just by entering a simple Google search, we were shocked this week to hear that our government had been spying on others and keeping tabs on other governments watching South Africa.
I was quite underwhelmed by the news of the so-called Spy Cables being leaked to Al-Jazeera this week, “exposing” the goings on of South Africa’s State Security Agency. We learned that Mossad agents are ‘arrogant’, according to the anonymous agent who penned one leaked cable; we learned that Iran is not as quiet as we like to think they are, possibly actively operating on South African soil in a bid to further the Iranian ‘revolution’; and we learned that Britain’s MI6 and the US’s CIA really do believe that any average Muslim is constantly on the verge of becoming an extremist.
But what I found most shocking is the matter-of-fact manner in which the SSA blocked these agencies from extending their bias here. It was, refreshing, to see one agency within a myriad of departments and organizations under our government’s banner openly, albeit in a secret document, telling another country’s agency to stay in its own lane. After all South Africa’s official stance on Mossad is that it is an extension of an Apartheid state, and we don’t like those one bit.
But ultimately, what did we expect, the fact that these countries want to spy on us, I say we take it as a compliment, it means we have things the world wants. I’d say let’s take the leak on the chin and run with the sliver of an ego boost lurking in the whole debacle. Iran wants our aerospace tech, supposedly so they can build nukes, but still, someone out there wants something we’re making.
During a time where South Africans here, and abroad, have lost confidence in their collective abilities as a nation, there are entities, shady entities but entities nonetheless, who want a piece of the Mzansi pie. The only alarming thing is that there are actually, again according to the leaks, spies working in government organizations across the country. If anything our security cluster just got a bunch of ‘cool’ points and they didn’t even lift a finger; we have spies, guys, how sweet is that?
But, let’s be serious for a moment, lately, I’ve been swayed into believing that each opening wound, each step mistaken, is an opportunity. And just as the chaos and controversy that surrounded the president’s State of the Nation address raised questions and ended up in very interesting answers being given; this is an opportunity for South Africans to reflect, as always, Saffers are very good at reflecting, we seem to be a very introspective nation.
This time, we can reflect on the fact that [according to the leaks] al-Qaeda doesn’t like South Africa; the Iranians want our goods really badly; the Americans want to kill off our politicians; the Israelis hate our guts as much as we hate theirs diplomatically, and we defend our own, even in secret spy cables.
Let’s have a round of applause to that.
Andriques Che Petersen is a VOC News reporter and social commentator.