Minister Mthethwa should retract his comments on the publishing of photos on Nkandla residence
Dianne Kohler Barnard MP
DA Shadow Minister of Police
During a post Cabinet briefing this morning, the Minister of Police, Nathi Mthethwa, levelled a threat against members of the media when he stated that people who publish photographs of President Jacob Zuma's private residence in Nkandla could "face the full might of the law". The Minister was basing his threat on the unconstitutional National Key Points Act of 1980.
Minister Mthethwa would do well to refrain from making such threats when he has also acceded to the fact that the National Key Points Act is highly problematic in a constitutional democracy. He must now do the right thing and unconditionally retract these comments.
It is clear that the Minister of Police, like his colleagues in the Security Cluster, are hell-bent on using this unconstitutional law to hide details surrounding the inexplicable splurging of hundreds of millions of rands of public money on President Jacob Zuma.
These comments are even more worrying if one considers the steadfast refusal of Minister Mthethwa to reveal the list of National Key Points, as I have asked him to do so in numerous parliamentary questions. This means that if he were to apply this as a law of general application, members of the public could also be arrested for taking photographs of the Government Printing Works (revealed by the Minister of Home Affairs), the SABC or pictures at the opening of Parliament.
If anything, these comments highlight the need once and for all to repeal this draconian Apartheid-era law. The DA has submitted a Private Members Bill, the Protection of Critical Infrastructure Bill, to do just this. This Bill would:
- Establish an inter-departmental board to oversee the functions surrounding the protection and classification of critical infrastructure installations, as opposed to the Minister of Police having sole responsibility and discretion for declaring areas or structures that require government protection;
- Create strict criteria for the classification of critical infrastructure installations under specific sectors, based on national security and vulnerability;
- Allocate the responsibility of managing the costs associated with declaring a place or area a critical infrastructure installation to the government, and not to the owner as is the case under the current legislation;
- Ensure that there is a publicly available list of all critical infrastructure installations and that this list is regularly reviewed and tabled in Parliament; and
- Ensure that the Police Portfolio Committee oversees the implementation of the Act, allowing for, regular open committee sittings.
Minister Mthethwa must bring his Department in line with our constitutional democracy and stop levelling threats at South Africans who are committed to our Constitution.
He must now do the right thing and unconditionally retract these comments without delay. Anything less would reveal that he is more committed to Apartheid-era draconian legislation than to accountability and transparency.
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