DA parliamentary leader Lindiwe Mazibuko wants a new regimen of classifying and protecting critical infrastructure, subjected to Parliament’s oversight, to end potential abuses under the National Key Points Act, an apartheid law still on the statute books.
Briefing the media on Wednesday on her private member’s bill, the Protection of Critical Infrastructure Bill, Mazibuko said this would prevent another Nkandlagate.
Referring to the R206 million taxpayer-funded upgrades at President Jacob Zuma’s Nkandla rural homestead, she said that amid the public outcry it was declared top secret under the “archaic, unconstitutional National Key Points Act to not only justify the expenditure but to hide its true extent”.
Her private member’s bill proposed an open and transparent approach, including a list of what is classified as critical infrastructure, regulated by a board with representatives of the police, crime intelligence, defence and presidential appointments, which was accountable to the parliamentary police committee.
There would be strict criteria on what could be classified to remove the current wide discretionary ministerial powers.
“That way, we are preventing the frivolity of declaring the private residence of a head of state as a national key point, simply because he’s a head of state,” added Mazibuko.
DA MP and police spokeswoman Dianne Kohler Barnard said the number of national key points varied in different official documents, and it was difficult to make sense of it.
“Because the list has been hidden away… you do have the situation here one always fears (that) a tourist may stand in front of one (a national key point) take a picture and be arrested.”
Mazibuko’s private member’s bill comes before her requested National Assembly discussion tomorrow on “the relevance and necessity of the National Key Points Act… in a democratic South Africa”.
The police ministry is drafting an amendment to the National Key Points Act.