Buthelezi refused to shred report - IFP

2011-03-29 21:36

Cape Town - IFP president Mangosuthu Buthelezi was ordered by the Mbeki Cabinet in 2003 to destroy the critical report of the Van Zyl Slabbert Commission on the Electoral Act, but refused, MP Mario Oriani-Ambrosini claimed on Tuesday.

Instead, Buthelezi, who was then home affairs minister, gave copies to university libraries around the country "where you can find them today", he said.

"He was called back and rapped over the knuckles and he said it is fine, if you want to fire me, fire me or get stuffed," said Oriani-Ambrosini, who served as Buthelezi's special adviser and enjoyed top secret security clearance.

"Of all his colleagues, only I and Zola Skweyiya backed him," he said.

Oriani-Ambrosini made the revelation during a sitting of the ad hoc committee drafting the contentious protection of information bill to illustrate a problem with its definition of public domain.

It outraged ruling party MPs who warned that he was breaking the law and that they did not want to hear any more.

"I'm concerned about whether what you are putting in the public domain is already out there. If it is not, then I cannot allow you to disclose it in here. It might be complicit to an unlawful activity," said ANC committee chair Cecil Burgess.

"If these things are classified there, I cannot entertain it here. Therefore I am going to rule that you must withdraw that information and I will take an opinion on it." 

Secrecy Act

Oriani-Ambrosini confirmed that he was indeed making public classified information, but said he was protected by parliamentary privilege.

"It is a piece of classified Cabinet information covered under the Secrecy Act which I have the privilege under the Constitution to disclose to this committee because it is a submission to a committee and as such is privileged."

He said he had made the point to show that if the bill became law as it stood, any fellow MP who made a note of what he had disclosed would be deemed to be in possession of classified information and imprisoned.

"In terms of the bill, if it were law, each of you would have to go to prison for 15 years... because information is being transferred and the mere possession of that information is a crime.

"Let's assume that you are shocked, as you should be, and you are going to seek a legal opinion. You are going to convey that piece of information to somebody else. Now conveying a piece of information, it's another 20 years."


These remarks drew another reprimand from Burgess, who lamented the provocative manner in which the IFP MP had sought to make a point.

"The way you put it across was in bad taste. People who have security clearance should not behave in the manner in which you have behaved."

Dene Smuts, of the Democratic Alliance, said she stood with her opposition colleague in fighting untenable provisions in the bill which criminalised and harshly punished possession of classified information, but that his legal argument was flawed.

If Oriani-Ambrosini was seeking to extend the definition of public domain so as to absolve those who subsequently dealt with leaked secret information, his attempt would fail in coming up against a 2008 Constitutional Court ruling written by Deputy Chief Justice Dikgang Moseneke.

In Independent Newspapers v the Minister for Intelligence Services and another, the court found that whether or not a classified document "has been disclosed to some degree in the public domain is a relevant, but not decisive factor in determining whether the document deserves continued protection".

It went on to state that a leaked confidential document does not summarily lose its classification, because this would encourage people who would benefit from their misconduct.

National interest

The bill gives the state far-reaching powers to classify information as secret and has been widely described as a throwback to the apartheid era.

Amid a public outcry last year, the state security ministry removed two offending provisions, including one allowing classification in the national interest.

Concerns remain over the right it gives hundreds of organs of state to classify information and the lack of public interest defence to protect the media and whistleblowers.

In a surprise move, ANC MP Vytjie Mentor on Tuesday said the committee should debate the question of a public interest defence as it could clear a major obstacle in finalising the bill. Her call drew a lukewarm response from Burgess.

The Van Zyl Slabbert Commission found that South Africa's present electoral system lacks accountability and proposed a system akin to the local government model, which combines constituencies and proportional representation.

  • edvermaak - 2011-03-29 21:48

    Anyone who understands this article, please explain it to us mere mortals in common man's language...

      Singo - 2011-03-29 23:04

      it was written using the Parliament language, no need to explain.

      Saamprater - 2011-03-30 06:54

      Don't worry, all you need to know is that you don't need to know what YOUR public servants are doing with your tax money, or so they want us to believe.

      Meanleader - 2011-04-03 12:46

      Edvermaak .. basically ,the anc were trying to cover up all aspects of their corruption , firstly by allowing all departmets to classify as confidential , any document they want to cover up , then to make it a serious crime to posess such a document . And if you were then to seek legal aid , and confer the evidence to your lawyer , you would get another 20 years for divulging classified docs , and your lawyer also goes to jail for bieng in posession of the info . Effectively , the ANC was trying to make corruption legal , and legal defence illegal , as well as disallowing transparrency in a Democracy ! Nothing unusual really !

  • maseratifitt - 2011-03-29 21:55

    If my memory serves me correctly, this report cost us about R70m. And the ANC said it must be shredded because it does not suit them. Not only does the ANC not want to improve our "democracy" but they also don't want us to see OUR report. Full points to Buthelezi. This "Protection of Information" Bill is but one reason for anybody who is interested in freedom for her/himself and his children, for any semblance of democracy in this country, NOT to vote for the ANC.

      burtfred - 2011-03-29 22:14

      Full marks to VZ Slabbert

      maseratifitt - 2011-03-29 22:34

      He got paid.

      Meanleader - 2011-04-03 12:47

      Yeah ....R70 million !!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

  • Benzo - 2011-03-29 22:07

    As I undertsand the issue: the proposed legislation makes it "punishable" to have information, classified by the government. I read this as follows: the government is employed by the people. The people should thus have the right to any information circulated within the government. End of classified information within government circles. If government has information it does not want to disclose to the public (=like having secrets for your boss) then they can do so. If it leaks? Tough on them. Next time hide it better.

      Samoesa - 2011-03-30 00:10

      Flawed and tame argument @Benzo. There are valid reasons to classify information, particularly in the Defence and NIA environments... this is common practise throughout the world and the reasons for it should be self evident. The debate here is whether or not it is desirable to claasify data merely because it would embarrass given government officials who get caught engaging in inappropriate conduct... capiche?

  • Peter - 2011-03-29 22:11

    Could the ANC please explain why the Slabbert Report needed to be shredded?By the way, Buthelezi is not without sin. In the 1980's I was ordered to shred thousands of books on his behalf.

      maseratifitt - 2011-03-29 22:36

      Girly books? Huh?

      Mabhulwana - 2011-03-29 22:47

      What kind of books were they and why was it necessary to shred them? Were you paid for doing that?

      Meanleader - 2011-04-03 12:50

      Peter don't answer mabhulwana , he sounds like a ANC agent . The new third force .

  • Notrax123 - 2011-03-29 22:27

    @ a sitting of the ad hoc committee drafting the contentious protection of information bill - " you either agree with the ruling party or shut up - democracy - the african way. Next - Adderly sreet to renamed Mugabe Street (Republic of Zim Two)

  • Ryan - 2011-03-30 06:50

    if only Buthelezi was elected prez back at the beginning.

      Meanleader - 2011-04-03 12:56

      The ANC shut Buthelezi up by making him a cabinet minister . He is looking out for himself . But finally , it seems that the deminutive Mr Mangosotho Buthelezi has woken from his sleep to see these scoundrel ANC for what they are . He is the only man in charge of a big enough mass , to hurt the ANC ..... he just needs to get his people to vote for him , and not the ANC ... ANC bought IFP votes by giving them houses !ANC has destroyed the ZULU highrachy , and made them slaves of corruption . Mangosotho ,,, you will get many votes if you take on the ANC my man !

  • Saamprater - 2011-03-30 06:58

    This act will, when it becomes law, will single-handedly make us a police state. And for those who don't know what that means, have a look see at the laws in Zim, and the rest of the African-despot countries. They all started with this same law. . . . . . . . .NO VOTES TO THE ANC, and if you do, don't cry later. THINK NOW!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

  • Badballie - 2011-03-30 07:12

    Just because the kids in the ANC make it classified, doesn't mean we ain't going to distribute it. The only context for this law is to cover the ANC's large butt. The way you put it across was in bad taste. People who have security clearance should not behave in the manner in which you have behaved." sounds like a two year old I saw playing on the side of the road this morning. Me personally? if I get my greasy paws on any of your "secret" documents I will be handing them over to wikileaks like the good citizen I am.

  • Francois Bester - 2011-03-30 07:14

    I think Wiki Leaks is going to have a lot more South African publications in the future.

  • Sisie - 2011-03-30 07:54

    Transparency but so many Secret Acts - you only need to know what the government wants you to know, and at present that means nothing.

  • maseratifitt - 2011-03-30 08:20

    One of the reasons why the ANC does not like the report is that it suggests that MP's should be representative of the public on a geographical basis. This means that the MP's are to stay spread out over SA in little towns and rural communities to listen and react to the people they represent, focusing on their interests. The ANC does not like this because then they can't all stay in larney places like Sandton, and live the grand life they do. Also, it will mean that Luthuli House will not have such a tight reign on them.

  • Kevin - 2011-03-30 09:04

    It shows the stupidity of the ANC who want to be the thought police of South Africa. When one examines these documents years after the event 99% of the classified documents are classified to prevent embarrassment to the Govt or its Cabinet. If the ANC want this act of parliament then it should be passed, subject to the proviso that if the Appeal Court and Constitutional Court find that any information has been classified to prevent embarrassment of the Govt or any of its members or for any other trivial reason such as to prevent the prosecution of a Govt member then the political party responsible for the classification should be barred from any role in Politics at any level of Govt for 10 years.

      maseratifitt - 2011-03-30 09:22

      You are right, Kevin. A simple way would be to say, by default, only the departments of Defence, National Intelligence and Foreign Affairs could receive any kind of classification. The rest eg Education, Agriculture, Women & Children, etc. are all public information. Alternatively, a panel of (say 4)judges could be set up, appointed 50% by the ruling party and 50% by opposition parties, who will according to a rigid set of predetermined criteria, decide which information gets classified and which not. The starting point should be that ALL information is public information. The government are our employees, and we are the employer. In which business would you find your employees doing things affecting your business and you are not allowed to know about it?

  • Cynical Sci - 2011-03-30 12:41

    I think I'm going to stop off at the university library on my way home as see if i can find this report

  • Sikhumbuzo - 2011-03-31 20:28

    Dr. M.G. Buthelezi is really losing his touch with reality. How can he make noise using a classified document. Is he trying to tell us that it is hard to transform. Shame, maybe he is frustrated by what is happening in the IFP; then he needed to take his miund off. But this,; is like jumping fron a saucepan into the fire. The reality is that, the IFP has reached its expiry date and he has to retire and let the young blood inject some fresh ideas or else his loyal subordinates will desert him. No one will say "Angeke ngihlukane noMntwana mina".

      Meanleader - 2011-04-03 13:03

      Sikhumbozo .... your IQ is sticking out ! You masters were trying to cover up , and Buthelezi skull shagged them . One honest man in cabinet , and he is not ANC .. Oooooo that must taste bad hey ?

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