ANC widens definition of national security

2011-07-27 18:19

Cape Town - ANC lawmakers on Wednesday proposed increasing the instances in which information can be classified to protect national security in a divisive new development on the protection of information bill.

Raising the spectre of WikiLeaks, ruling party MP Luwellyn Landers called for secrecy to apply to protect South Africa not only from attack, but also from information-peddling and the exposure of economic dossiers and state security matters.

Asked by the Democratic Alliance why he wanted to insert three new causes for classification into the bill, Landers replied: "How can the exposure of a matter of state security not affect our national security?

"If a matter of state security of ours is exposed we cannot just say it is part of those things, Julien Assange and that."

His colleague Anneliese van Wyk added that the definition of national security was being broadened in democracies around the world, as the realisation had dawned that health crisis and food shortages could threaten the stability of a country.

"If we don't broaden our definition the next generation will suffer."

The issue of state security matters raises a red flag to the opposition in part because of the government's increasing reluctance to provide information on issues like President Jacob Zuma's flight schedule because they argue it would pose a security threat.

Economic and scientific secrets

Earlier attempts to include economic and scientific secrets in the ambit of the bill greatly contributed to the public outrage around it.

In response to public submissions, State Security Minister Siyabonga Cwele agreed late last year that it should be cut from the draft legislation.

The DA argued that it was wrong to seek to reintroduce it now, along with developmental issues like health, food and water, because the ANC agreed last month that the bill would only allow the intelligence agencies to classify information and this was not their ambit.

"It is not the business of the intelligence agency to sort out health crisis," DA MP David Maynier said.

"In a democratic country the brief of intelligence agencies needs to be limited to national security threats. We do not need the spooks in this country to be going through the bottom drawers of the department of health."

Landers suggested that the opposition feared that allowing classification of health, scientific and economic matters would enable the state to hide corruption and other wrongdoing.

He said this would not happen as the bill would provide for penalties for officials who classified information to cover up graft.

Landers did not oblige the DA and the Inkatha Freedom Party's requests to define information peddling.

Possible insurrection

The inclusion of the concept in the bill has drawn objections in the past, when the ruling party argued that it was necessary to prevent things like the leaking of the 2006 Operation Browse Mole report that warned of potential insurrection should Jacob Zuma not become president.

The proposal to extend the definition of national security to include these categories of harm dismayed the Right2Know Campaign which has called for it to be narrowed down.

"This speaks to our deepest concerns that we feel these concessions in the last few months have been very positive but the real meat of the bill attempts to expand the power of organs of state security," said the coordinator of the campaign, Murray Hunter.

"And it is unacceptable that we should see MPs drafting a law that will erode further our ability to hold our spies to account."

Hunter has warned that despite the concessions made in June seeming to limit the classification to conventional official secrets, the bill would still allow government to classify almost any matter it chose by defining it as a state security issue.

As it stands, the draft law prescribes prison sentences of up to 15 years for disclosing such matters.

Deliberations on the bill will continue on Thursday.

  • Kyle - 2011-07-27 18:23

    And it begins....

      peter the gr - 2011-07-27 18:29

      To protect what?? MALEMA!!

      BigMoose - 2011-07-27 18:31

      Here comes the Gestapo.

      Kyle - 2011-07-27 18:33

      I wonder how much it is going to widen before this bill is passed.

      squeegeepilot - 2011-07-27 18:59

      Soon even Pieter de Villiers will be able to hide behind this Bill rather than behind "the Elephants in the street." We will go to prison for denouncing the team selection.

      Uthando - 2011-07-27 19:09

      OMG...I'm gonna puke......

      Montblanc - 2011-07-27 19:23

      In the end any negative report about the anc will be classified as a national security issue.

      Mr_Mind - 2011-07-27 19:24

      They should just drop it already! Our Constitution does not allow for this! I want to know everything! It's my right!

      Bidartbru - 2011-07-27 19:24

      Malema cover up here we go. Excuse my french but the ANC are nothing but cluster fck of ignorant, arrogant f**king a***holes!

      michaelx - 2011-07-27 20:22


      kingmalema - 2011-07-27 23:12

      Just accept the fact that this will happen, you cannot fight it forever the majority has agreed, it will be done. Once this is a effect fair land redistribution, nationalization and regional EE quotas are all next. You are like a tiny stone fighting against the sea, all these things will come to fruition and we will have true justice and equality for all not just for a select over privileged few. Viva Zuma!? Viva ANC!?

      pierreedge - 2011-08-05 18:34

      Well it doesnt begin as such, it continues... But in reverse, if the state want to keep their info confisential from their people, i hope the people will have the right to keep their confidential as well, no more fica, rica shmica and all the other invasion of our privacy that we are not even aware of... Seriously, it is a strange coincidence that this bill gets highlighted when there are talks of trust fund disclosure and ministers interests in private company. Are there any event recently about leaked state information that jeopardised state security?? i dont think so George orwell was a visionary am afraid

  • Dal68 - 2011-07-27 18:25

    These incompetent and corrupt fools (ANC), they have already ensured that the next generations will not only suffer, but will become just another African country begging the Western world for food relief and money!!

      PB - 2011-08-05 13:07

      The ONLY reason they want this law, is to hide their grafting, stealing, ignorance, idiocy, lazyness, tenderpreneuring, stuff-ups, etc. etc. Why is it suddenly such a priority? What is there that they so desperately want to hide from the South African citizens? HOW STUPID DO THEY THINK WE ARE? NOT ALL OF US ARE HYPNOTISED BY THE FAT FART AND HIS FELLOW TENDERPRENEURS.

  • Bill - 2011-07-27 18:27

    Finding a way to hide your shenanigans, is not the same as censoring content as a matter of national security…!

      BigMoose - 2011-07-27 18:32

      It's far more sinister than that.

      Andrew - 2011-07-27 18:49

      The present government will do anything to stop transparency in this country as it will expose them for what they are!!

  • Protest - 2011-07-27 18:30

    The secrecy bill is just an attempt to legalize what the corrupt politicians are doing, - KEEPING SECRETS. Just, with the bill in place, whoever exposes the secrets of corruption now stand the risk of 15 years in prison. Sheesh.............

  • jen - 2011-07-27 18:31

    In Nigeria and Kenya, the respective governments have voted for more openess regarding official government issues. There is even a website where you can go and read documents about decisions that were made in various departments. In SA, they are going backwards, doing exactly what their worst enemy has done. With all that time and effort they could fix their two financially, morally and ethically bankrupt provinces.

  • Martin - 2011-07-27 18:33

    "He said this would not happen as the bill would provide for penalties for officials who classified information to cover up graft". Now that gives me a nice warm feeling in my tummy !!!!!! What about penalties for stealing taxpayer money. I dont believe a word you guys say. I dont TRUST the current government. Forgive me for saying so.

  • gnvdw - 2011-07-27 18:35

    BIIIIIG surprise there!

  • The Wonderer - 2011-07-27 18:37

    Does it include national corruption now??

  • Olavin - 2011-07-27 18:38

    "ANC lawmakers on Wednesday proposed increasing the instances in which information can be classified to protect government security in a divisive new development on the protection of corruption bill." /Fixed.

  • Mercenary - 2011-07-27 18:38

    MMMMMMMMM.......I see a South-African Wikileaks in the near future.

  • Spyker May - 2011-07-27 18:58

    A knife in the hands of a Jamie Oliver, will lead to memorable work of artistry; the same knife in the hands of Jeffrey Dahmer will lead to memorable work of atrocity... This matter has little to do with the principles, it is a matter of the principals - the ANC is the pivotal matter. You dare not to put any form of responsibility in the hands of the ANC. Expecting the ANC to practice any form mature reasoning- and/or practice, is a bit like expecting Zimbabwe to man the International Space Station...

  • Slapper - 2011-07-27 18:59

    Does it include corruption, Incompetence, Nepotism, Rape, Murder, Theft, or does it just include any and all information on the ANC?

  • jock - 2011-07-27 19:05

    ANC definition of security"if it exposes our corrupt dealings it must be banned."

  • edalsg - 2011-07-27 19:06

    STOP Paying tax !!!!!!

  • Hamilton Ngwenya - 2011-07-27 19:08

    The Secrecy Bill should not be used as a tool to gag the media nor keep the public oblivious to the State's dealings and use of public funds unless National Security is compromised. Still in the dark about 2010 matric results!

  • pierreedge - 2011-07-27 19:09

    They should have said what you dont know can hurt you instead of the illogical arguments given as justification for more info control. Seriously, either am totally stupid or the politicians really consider the people very, let's say, simple with the argument given as an excuse. Can someone explain how knowing the flight schedule of the president can cause a health crisis and/or a food shortages??? "If we don't broaden our definition the next generation will suffer." That's another statement taken from Orwell's big brother i think I salute J Assange, the freedom cyber-crusader against government lies and manipulation of their own people worldwide.

  • Rev. H-Cubed - 2011-07-27 19:13

    It would save them a great deal of effort if they simply accept that there is no semantic flourish that can make "gag the press" pass constitutional muster. Information peddling and economic dossiers indeed. What a load of nonsense. Here's some counter-nonsense opinion, to balance the scale. The information currently being "peddled" in the media about the "economic dossier" of certain individuals is the best value-for-money product on the market, bar none. It also shows massive growth potential, and I think we should expand the portfolio for greater market penetration. I prefer this brand of nonsense to that being offered by the ANC.

  • Anneline - 2011-07-27 19:17

    Fight this madness; will only lead to more corruption and unaccountability - as we have experienced the last weeks.

  • crackerr - 2011-07-27 19:22

    "His colleague Anneliese van Wyk added that the definition of national security was being broadened in democracies around the world, as the realisation had dawned that health crisis and food shortages could threaten the stability of a country". _____________________________________________________________________ Health crises and food shortages can threaten the security of the country? What is this concern about food security suddenly? Land grabbing perhaps something to do with it? That aside for now, knowledge of a crisis is surely not the cause of the crisis. No concrete examples of how information will contribute or cause the crises? So it will be classified information how many die where because of a lack of food or how much food is being allocated to certain areas and certain population groups? Or how many die of a certain virus infection because of a lack of medicine? Keep it under wraps so the elites in government and other well-connected can continue to keep their nice, comfortable positions. The deaths in hospitals and the causes will become secrets. So we will not be allowed to know how many lives will be sacrificed for the sake of the new National Health Scheme. Let's hope the appointment of a new chief justice is not connected to what is taking place. Unfortunately we are compelled to believe the worst of this ANC government.

  • Babba x - 2011-07-27 19:29

    Any surprises? The secrecy bill need to proceed and ther are trying different angles... Just the way the ANC does business

  • Rapier - 2011-07-27 19:45

    An escalating sense of paranoia hides a deep insecurity in the ANC hierarchy - this does not bode well for SA if they continue to "govern" - We NEED strong leaders withe the talent of Moeletsi Mbeki!

  • Macho Mike - 2011-07-27 19:56

    Eish i did not know, nor belief, we would be attacked. Hau, is Uncle Bob threatening to invade SA? Or Lesotho, Swaziland, Angola, Namibia etc. Maybe she is China who want to attack SA? Eish, this is just strangulization of freedom off expreshun, freedom of peoples and ANC Cover up clauses.

      maseratifitt - 2011-07-27 22:44

      South Africa is under constant threat. Just recently agent Peense from the forces of darkness launched a vicious attack on the President.We must never drop our guard. Even the type of drink in our glasses should remain a secret.

  • gary.dasilva - 2011-07-27 20:02

    Please go to Right2Know Campaign and sign up and protest as loud as you can. demand that this information bill be scraped in its entirety. If you do not shout at the top of your voices condeming this Gestopo piece of legislation. Dont complain when we are living in a police state

  • Vince.York - 2011-07-27 20:03

    By appearances, to the international communities too, seemingly the ANC stance has become that of trapped rats - possibly with good reason for the paranoiac determination to ensure no information that can be used against them in a court of law ever sees the light of day - especially with the acknowledgment that abuse of Trust Funds and like instruments are widespread.

      sipholess - 2011-07-28 00:24

      Vince you are spot on. Europe and the US know what is going on in SA and wont get involved. When SA goes bang it will be business as usual.

  • Robin - 2011-07-27 20:17

    If I might make a suggestion...I suggest making all Trust Accounts a matter of State security. Heed my suggestion or the truth will out.

  • Photojockey - 2011-07-27 20:58

    The Prevention of Information Bill in its proposed expanded form effectively gives the Govenrment (read ANC) an open-ended licence to do and become whatever it wants to do and become. This licence cannot be challenged in any way whatsoever. For Landers to say “this would not happen as the bill would provide for penalties for officials who classified information to cover up graft.”, when asked about the handling of corrupt officials is laudable (depending on the fence one is sitting on), laughable and lamentable. Thought through, exposing any form of corruption and the officials involved will be impossible as the bill will prevent such a thing being probed and exposed in the first instance. Landers is, nothing more than an ANC backed liar. Forums such as this, where we believe free and open discussion is possible, will become impossible. ISPs will be ordered in terms of the PIB to disclose the details of the forum correspondents. No matter how bad, corrupt, indecent, or illegal the previous apartheid governments may have been, the proposals of the ANC are infinitely worse in that the proposals will ban everyone, affect everyone, imprison everyone. In essence, the rights of everyone as enshrined in the constitution will become history. RIP Freedom.

  • Albertus - 2011-07-27 20:59

    The weaker the government, the more theaterend they are. You only have treason cases where a weak administration rules.

  • Jack - 2011-07-27 21:16

    Fisrt we had Nam-Babwe, now we have SA-Babwe

  • mike881 - 2011-07-27 21:50

    Word has it that Zanu PF has assisted the anc lawmakers(now that in itself is a contradiction)in drafting this latest piece of garbage. The anc simply copied verbatim the original Zanu PF documents.

  • maseratifitt - 2011-07-27 22:36

    "If we don't broaden our definition the next generation will suffer." The next generation of ANC looters.

  • chris.khanye - 2011-07-27 22:50

    The desperation of the ANC knows no bounds. The only threat is not to the country, but the ANC's grip to power. The prospect of the ANC loosing power is more vivid now than before and the Info Bill will for the time being guarantee uninturrupted looting of state coffers by the ruling party. Also now, former slaves are taking a cue from their apartheid masters and preparing for a police state. I didn't know that I would live to see the day the ANC adopts, perfects and condone one of the most notorious apartheid laws. The ANC is bringing back an apartheid law!!

  • R.Suppards - 2011-07-27 22:53

    The ANC MP's drafting this bill will do ANYTHING to keep their paychecks even if it means betraying the people the vowed to serve.

  • sipholess - 2011-07-28 00:02

    I feel sorry for all the decent people living in SA that can't get out. This Country is "Dead man walking"

  • Gibbonater - 2011-07-28 08:44

    This is to protect the thieving filth that belong to the anc. To hide from the general population where money is going, who is skimming off the top and in general who is stealing tax payers money. So the anc elite and their families can live a life of kings with platters of food and fancy cars while the poor are fed absolute drivvle and propaganda from their masters in Luthuli. What happens one day when there is no more taxpayer?

  • Anonymous123 - 2011-07-30 15:50

    Anonymous South Africa to raise awareness around the world for government corruption and censorship in South Africa and provide information on how to protest in relative safety.

  • Fair Deal - 2011-08-25 17:19

    It is clear that the bill is intended to gag freedom of information that may embarass the ruling party and prevent any enquiry into underhand dealings.This will also enable the goverment to expropriate,enforce,legislate and initiate whatever it wants without public scrutiny. We do not require this bill to protect the country only those people governing it.

  • Gazza - 2011-08-25 22:06

    what possible secret could the Nazi ANC government have to hid apart from there corrupt ways! It so blatantly obvious... give me a break...

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