Public Protector Thuli Madonsela will tomorrow be the centre of national attention when she releases the long-awaited report of her office’s investigation into alleged spending of more than R200 million on upgrades to the Presidential homestead in northern KwaZulu-Natal.
One of the defences used by Public Works Minister Thulas Nexsi to keep details of upgrades to Nkandla out of the public eye was to classify the homestead as a National Key Point.
This was hotly disputed by particularly the major opposition Democratic Alliance (DA) party in Parliament and saw numerous questions asked as well as a debate on the issue of National Key Points, still in use even though it is legislation dating back to the previous National Party government.
An indication of how strongly the DA went at firstly what it called government’s attempts to cover up the spending at Nkandla, and secondly the whole National Key Points Act, comes with the party posing no less 34 written questions in Parliament, six applications in terms of the Promotion of Access to Information Act and appeals to the courts to gain access to the Nkandla report.
DA Parliamentary leader Lindiwe Mazibuko has also tabled the Crucial Infrastructure Bill as a private member’s bill to repeal the 1974 National Key Points Act. It is currently in the public domain for comment, which can be lodged until April 7.
The Crucial Infrastructure Bill seeks to repeal the National Key Points Act “in its entirety”. The Bill does not include Presidential and Parliamentary accommodation such as Nkandla and the Bryntiron housing complex east of the Union Buildings in Pretoria. These, although South Africans are not supposed to know what the country’s National Key points are according to Police Minister Nathi Mthethwa, are on the list of 183 in the 2013/14 SA Police Service annual report.
Other national key points have been divulged by Home affairs Minister Naledi Pandor (the government printer in the Pretoria CBD), DA shadow defence and military veterans minister David Maynier (the SANDF Silvermine communications facility in Cape Town), the SABC when it reported operations would not be affected by a strike at the Airports Company of SA, because airports are national key points, and Denel. A bronze plaque at the entrance to the State-owned defence conglomerate’s Irene, Centurion, campus makes sure visitors know they are entering a National Key Point.
Mazibuko’s private member’s bill lists, among others, crucial infrastructure as being places or areas used for the storage and development of biological and chemical warfare agents; computing and telecommunications equipment; medical, police, fire and rescue systems; production and holding facilities for natural gas, crude and refined petroleum and petroleum-derived fuels; generation stations, transmission and distribution networks for electricity and financial services.
The physical distribution systems “crucial to State security and economic interest” included in the bill are national airspace systems, airports, traffic movement systems, ports, waterways and railway stations.
Also defined as crucial infrastructure in Mazibuko’s bill is water from source through to reservoirs, aqueducts, filtration and cleaning system as well as waste water systems.
The bill will only be debated by the next Parliament after the May 7 elections.