Goodbye National Key Points Act, hello Critical Infrastructure Protection Bill


Government is to publish the draft Critical Infrastructure Protection Bill, its replacement for the apartheid era National Key Points Act, in the Government Gazette for public comment, Minister in the Presidency Jeff Radebe said this week.

This follows a private members bill submitted by Democratic Alliance MP Zakhele Mbhele last November. It and a previous private members bill submitted by former Democratic Alliance (DA) Parliamentary leader, Lindiwe Mazibuko, in 2013, did not progress through the National Assembly under the title “Protection of Critical Infrastructure Bill”.

The National Key Points Act came under fire following media revelations about extensive additions being made to President Jacob Zuma’s Nkandla homestead in rural KwaZulu-Natal at about the same time as a jet airliner, chartered by the politically connected Gupta family, landed at AFB Waterkloof carrying passengers bound for a wedding at Sun City three years ago.

These events generated debate in both the National Assembly and the National Council of Provinces with opposition parties demanding government make public its list of national key points. It eventually did so in December 2014. This officially saw South Africans know that, among others, Parliament, provincial legislatures, Presidential and Ministerial residences as well as oil pipelines, dams, power stations, the Union Buildings, airports, the nuclear facility at Pelindaba west of Pretoria and certain roads were classified as National Key Points.

Military installations and bases such as AFB Waterkloof did not enjoy the same classification but were nevertheless protected.

With a draft bill coming out for comment, South Africans will apparently have more say in the processes leading to identification of what exactly qualifies as critical infrastructure, the previous National Key Points.

Radebe said the draft bill makes provision for all infrastructure critical to the country’s national security to be identified and “adequately” protected. It will also see an institutional framework created to monitor and administer the protection of infrastructure.

The draft bill, according to SAnews, provides different criteria for the classification of critical infrastructure. These are based, among others, on national security and vulnerability and a public list of all key points. This list will be regularly reviewed and tabled in Parliament.

No date has yet been given for publication of the draft bill.