Cape Town - The South African Women's Collective (SAWOC) says it is alarmed that the State Security Agency (SSA) has issued a cease-and-desist letter against NB Publishers, the company publishing the book The President’s Keepers written by investigative journalist Jacques Pauw.
The letter demands that the controversial book which contains explosive revelations of corruption be withdrawn from circulation because it “contains parts that are in contravention of the Intelligence Services Act, 65 of 2002”.
The organisation said in a statement that allegation that R1 billion in taxpayers' was misspent by Principal Agent Network (PAN) comes at a time when South Africa is battling "growing poverty, high unemployment rates and increasing inequalities in our society."
SAWOC also expressed outrage that Sars has threatened legal action over claims that President Jacob Zuma evaded taxes during his first term in office.
"As SAWOC we know that all this tax wastage and corruption directly affects women and girls the hardest. This revelation happens in the week when we have learnt through the Parliamentary Multi-Party Women’s Caucus (MPWC) that the National Treasury (NT) is dead against making sanitary products freely available to school-going girls or having them VAT exempted," the collective said.
Rather than threaten Pauw and his sources, SAWOC says Sars should be investigatin the allegations of tax evasion levelled against President Zuma. They also questioned why Sars would threaten the journalist if the allegations in his book were not based on fact.
"We feel that the threat to ban or censor the book is tantamount to censorship and suppression of freedom of expression. This threat is a violation of one of our fundamental rights to information as citizens. This right we hold dear as it enable us to know how our elected representatives conduct themselves in private and it is also a right protected by our Constitution.
"We are against this SSA and SARS threat as we believe that our hard won gains of democracy as enshrined in the Constitution are being further eroded. We think that such threats are attempts to hide misdemeanours by those implicated in abusing state resources that should go to meeting the needs of the citizens.
"Our lives as citizens and in particular as women are negatively impacted through the daily-reported rampant corruption and greed by those whom we have entrusted with leadership positions. The report of abuse of state resources and corruption is happening while our economy has stagnated as investors are weary of investing in an unstable and corrupt political environment. This has worsened poverty, inequality and unemployment.
"As the economy has stagnated this has brought about great hardships to the masses of poor people. The socio-political stresses of this environment have increased levels of unrest, crime and sexual violence against women and children."
SAWOC called on all citizens, and in particular women, to "raise their voices against the return to the draconian media laws of the apartheid era."