No good reasons for opposing DA’s Critical Infrastructure Bill - Zakhele Mbhele

Party says apartheid-era National Key Points Act has to go to prevent another Nkandla

Police Committee must provide credible reasons to reject DA Critical Infrastructure Bill

On Wednesday 11 November, the Police Portfolio Committee is set to vote on a motion of desirability on the DA’s Critical Infrastructure Bill, the results of which will either confirm Parliament’s deference to the Executive or assert its autonomous authority as the constitutionally mandated lawmaking body of the country.

Should the ANC and other opposition parties reject the Bill as undesirable because of the Police Minister’s intent to table his stalled Bill, they will have to raise substantial and rational reasons to show why work on this Bill cannot begin taking into account any subsequent representations from the Minister and public representations, which have already been received, which  may assist the Committee in developing this legislation.

Indeed, if the Minister has applied his mind to this matter, this should be no difficult task and the important task of reforming our security legislation may continue. 

Last week I presented the Private Member’s Bill as an urgent and necessary legislative reform to repeal the outdated and unconstitutional Apartheid-era National Key Points Act of 1980 which allowed for the secrecy and accountability deficit that saw the undue “security upgrades” of President Jacob Zuma’s private residence at Nkandla to the tune of R246 million in taxpayer Rands. If we are to avoid another Nkandla we need to scrap the NKPA and replace it with legislation that is more in line with our constitutional order.

From the beginning of deliberations on the Bill, it was clear that the ANC and EFF were intent on squashing the Bill. 

The ANC tried to argue that the DA’s Bill was a “pre-emptive strike” to capitalise on the delay with the introduction of the Police Minister’s stalled Critical Infrastructure Bill. This simply isn’t true. 

The DA’s Bill has a long history going back to 2012 when it was first tabled by the party during the fourth Parliament but then lapsed when that Parliament rose ahead of the 2014 general elections, without it having gone beyond the gazetting stage. Our revival of it now is simply a continuation of that process in the current Parliament.   

The DA will reiterate our argument at the next meeting that there are no clear and compelling grounds for assessing the DA’s Bill as being undesirable.

The current limbo wherein the Police Minister’s Bill is floating somewhere in the executive ether does not oblige the committee to abrogate its lawmaking powers and mandate and wait on the Minister to get his act together while such a pressing issue remains unresolved.

Issued by Zakhele Mbhele, DA Shadow Minister of Police, 9 November 2015