Key Points Act is being ‘used to protect corruption’
THE NATIONAL Key Points Act was used by the apartheid government “to wage war against our own people”, and was now being used to “advance corruption”, opposition leaders said yesterday.
The controversial legislation, invoked repeatedly to keep secret details of the R206 million “security upgrades” at President Jacob Zuma’s Nkandla residence, was debated in the National Assembly at the request of DA parliamentary leader Lindiwe Mazibuko.
ANC speakers insisted the act’s protection of critical infrastructure was essential and in line with international best practice, adding that it was in any case being reviewed to bring it in line with the constitution.
Mazibuko, who earlier this week introduced a proposed replacement for the apartheidera act – the Protection of Critical Infrastructure Bill – opened the debate by saying the act had been passed at the height of apartheid government “paranoia”, and should be repealed.
“When the act was passed, it was done in response to what the government of the day viewed as sabotage or terrorism. It was used to wage war against our own people,” she said.
The “unconstitutional” act should be repealed and replaced with her private member’s bill.
This would introduce a board with the power to declare a site a key point, replacing the current power of a minister to do so. It would also make public a list of key points, which are currently secret.
DA MP James Selfe said the act had been introduced by then justice minister Kobie Coetzee, “who sounded chillingly like the minister of police today”.
He had justified the legislation on the basis of attacks launched by operatives of the ANC’s armed wing, Umkhonto weSizwe.
Cope leader Mosiuoa Lekota said the act was being used to “advance corruption” by the ANC.
In a heated speech, greeted with applause from opposition benches and heckles from the ANC, Lekota said the act should be scrapped.
“Today, as I stand here, I can hardly believe what is being done in the name of the ANC,” he said.
Police Minister Nathi Mthethwa said Mazibuko was being “opportunistic” in introducing her bill, as he had already announced a review of the Key Points Act in May. The review would include a public consultation process, set to begin early next year .
A list of national key points would be tabled with the JSCI, Mthethwa said. This meant the list would not be open to the public, despite the possibility under the current legislation of them unwittingly breaking the law by disclosing information about a key point. Mthethwa said the DA should have waited for this process to be completed.
While parts of the act that were not in line with the constitution would be repealed, “the National Key Points, as an act, is here to stay”, he said, to loud applause from ANC members. It protected “critical infrastructure and key resources”.
That many countries had legislation to safeguard critical infrastructure exposed “the DA’s lie” that it was an apartheid measure.