Now that National Key Points are in the public domain the total lack of any military facilities or installations on the list reinforces the notion that the SA National Defence Force (SANDF) is the responsible organisation when it comes to securing its own.
This, according to military analyst Helmoed Heitman, is in line with the original intention of the National Key Points Act legislation by the former government at the height of the so-called Total Onslaught. He said the legislation was put in place to ensure infrastructure essential to the functioning of the country was protected from attacks.
This saw the list include power stations, harbours and ports, dams, power stations, pipelines as well as the Houses of Parliament and others.
“To the best of my knowledge military facilities such as AFB Waterkloof, the Silvermine communication facility and various ammunition and vehicle depots have not been listed. This points to the SANDF doing the job itself when it comes to ensuring its bases, depots and other facilities are safe and secure,” he said.
The National Key Points list released by Police Minister Nkosinathi Nhleko contains, as expected, the Houses of Parliament, the nine provincial legislatures, residences of former presidents Mandela and Mbeki, a number of power stations and pipelines, the currently under construction Square Kilometre Array radio telescope, some national airports including OR Tambo and King Shaka, the SA Banknote Company as well as fuel depots and water installations such as those of Rand Water at Zwartkopjies , Zuikerbosch and the Vaal Barrage.
Also on the list is President Zuma’s KwaZulu-Natal homestead, Nkandla, referred to only as “Pres of SA Res – KZN”.
While South Africans can now know what government considers as strategic installations, the opposition Democratic Alliance (DA) party has not given up on submission of a private members bill to replace the National Key Points Act.
The bill, originally proposed by former DA Parliamentary leader Lindiwe Mazibuko, does not include Presidential and Parliamentary accommodation such as Nkandla and Bryntirion in Pretoria. Instead, it defines critical 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. Physical distribution systems “crucial to State security and economic interest” included are national airspace systems, airports, traffic movement systems, ports, waterways and railway stations.
Tim Flack, Western Cape organiser for the SA National Defence Union (Sandu) maintains the DA is attempting to create the impression the party invented the “critical infrastructure” concept.
“The Americans call it Critical Infrastructure Protection (CIP) while the EU refers to it as the European Programme for Critical Infrastructure Protection (EPCIP),” he said.
According to him critical installations should include, but not be limited to, a country’s law making bodies (the legislature and courts), military installations, prisons, financial institutions, oil production, electricity generation, transportation, telecommunications, water, health and official residences of heads of state (for example the White House, Buckingham Palace) and so on.
“‘Critical infrastructure’ is the operative term and it seems to be internationally recognised nowadays. The DA is trying to create the impression they invented the concept, but they actually stole the name from other countries, ignoring the fact that South Africa has had it since 1980, in the form of the National Key Points Act. It is most definitely not a new concept; it just has a different name.
“South Africa was way ahead of its time when the National Key Points Act was enacted, but certain aspects of the act need tweaking or revision. The Act primarily made provision for the recognition of the need for the protection of various key points in South Africa. Arguing the need for such policy is not an endorsement of the apartheid era system, but merely taking lessons learnt and applying them to modern day South Africa. By the same token, many horrible technologies of World War II were key in the technological advancements we enjoy today.
“In the South Africa of today, while we don’t yet see terrorist threats, as experienced in countries like the US, we cannot afford to ignore the fact that new movements are growing in this country, with some of them being radical military styled ‘political’ movements that call for a revolution. Africa is no stranger to bloody wars and so-called revolutions. It is common knowledge that some countries on this continent have not seen peace in decades, all in the name of ‘revolution’. The Central African Republic is a case in point. That country was taken in a matter of hours!”
Flack believes there have been abuses of application in the National Key Points Act and a repeal of some sections as well as amendments are needed.
“The argument isn’t about why the Act should be changed, but rather why it is necessary,” he said.