South Africa’s new security laws: who will they protect?
Johannesburg – Concerns are growing in South Africa that new laws on intelligence, security and graft-busting may end up protecting the political elite more than the nation.
President Jacob Zuma’s ANC government has proposed three measures – two revisions to apartheid-era intelligence bills and a third on oversight of the police’s anti-graft unit, the Hawks – that have prompted concern data may be suppressed.
The bills threaten reporters with jail for using sensitive government information, increase the powers of a circle around the president to keep a lid on secrets and could clip the wings of the elite Hawks, trained by the likes of the U.S. FBI.
They are nowhere near as draconian as the laws drawn up under white minority rule, when the names of liberation struggle leaders such as Nelson Mandela and Walter Sisulu could not even appear in print.
But some insiders see them as corrosive.
“The priority of the pieces of legislation is not the stated protection of South Africa,” said a senior law enforcement official who asked not to be named. “They are aimed at protecting certain individuals within the ANC.”
The government says the new laws are overdue and fears of abuse are not justified.
“All work being done will continue to be done within the ambit of the Constitution and the rule of law and so we should not be alarmist in our approach to the reforms,” said Brian Dube, spokesman for the State Security Ministry.
Angola Press Agency
- South Africa’s new security laws: who will they protect?