The South Africa’s ruling party, African National Congress (ANC)  has accused the United States (US)  of trying to “undermine the (country’s) democratically elected government” of the people by the people for the people.

The representatives from both governments dismissed the claims saying their relationship is as ever strong.

The party’s spokesman Zizi Kodwa’s comments followed a story in the British Sunday Times that said the U.S. Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) helped South Africa’s apartheid government arrest Nelson Mandela in 1962.

That report quotes a now-dead retired CIA agent who said the U.S. saw Mandela as a communist sympathizer.

Mandela spent 27 years in prison for his opposition to the racist apartheid regime. He was elected South Africa’s first black president in 1994, after the fall of apartheid, and upon his death in 2013 was mourned across South Africa and the world as a champion for peace and equality.

Kodwa said the CIA allegation is “a serious indictment” – and that the intelligence agency is still operating in South Africa.

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“We have recently observed that there are efforts to undermine the democratically elected ANC government,” he said in local media. “They never stopped operating here.… It is still happening now – the CIA is still collaborating with those who want regime change.”

Kodwa did not respond to numerous calls from VOA seeking comment on Monday.

But South Africa’s Foreign Ministry was quick to dismiss his comments.

“Those are not our views as government,” spokesman Clayson Monyela said. “From government’s point of view, our relations with the United States are strong, they’re warm, and cordial,” he said.

The two nations are also major trading partners, with trade totalling about $21 billion, according to U.S. government figures. However, that relationship was threatened late last year when the two governments nearly failed to resolve outstanding trade issues. The situation prompted President Barack Obama to threaten to suspend South Africa’s membership in a lucrative U.S. trade agreement that allowed the country to export goods duty free.

In February, the secretary-general of the ANC, Gwede Mantashe, also accused the U.S. government of pushing regime change, saying: “We are aware of the meetings taking place regularly in the American embassy. These meetings in the embassy are about nothing else other than mobilization for regime change.”