The SA National Editors' Forum (Sanef) is troubled by the refusal of the defence ministry to supply information about the operations of the state's military, naval and air forces.
Minister Lindiwe Sisulu had refused to answer questions about the planes that “shadowed” Zuma's flight to the United States and about faults that developed in the aircraft in which Deputy President Kgalema Motlanthe was a passenger, resulting in a forced landing, Sanef said in a statement.
“Sanef is concerned that these refusals by the defence ministry to supply information are further alarming manifestations of the government's desires to clamp down on information, the prime example of this being the Protection of State Information Bill.”
Sanef said Sisulu referred people who questioned Zuma's flight to a previous answer that information on flight schedules for the “president and other principals” was “confidential” due to “safety considerations” and that the information “cannot be in the public domain”.
“Sanef points out that information about flights by the former president Thabo Mbeki were supplied openly in Parliament without any reference to security or classification,” Sanef said.
Maintaining opposition to the bill, Sanef called on Sisulu and her colleagues in the government to “stop raising barriers against informing the public about important matters of public interest, and to pursue the constitutional aims of an open and transparent society”.
The defence ministry was not available for comment. - Sapa