Quote of the week

An ‘important purpose of section 34 [of the Constitution] is to guarantee the protection of the judicial process to persons who have disputes that can be resolved by law’ and that the right of access to court is ‘foundational to the stability of an orderly society. It ensures the peaceful, regulated and institutionalised mechanisms to resolve disputes, without resorting to self-help. The right of access to court is a bulwark against vigilantism, and the chaos and anarchy which it causes. Construed in this context of the rule of law and the principle against self-help in particular, access to court is indeed of cardinal importance’.The right guaranteed s34 would be rendered meaningless if court orders could be ignored with impunity:the underlying purposes of the right — and particularly that of avoidance of self-help — would be undermined if litigants could decide which orders they wished to obey and which they wished to ignore.

Plasket AJ
Victoria Park Ratepayers' Association v Greyvenouw CC and others (511/03) [2003] ZAECHC 19 (11 April 2003)
25 June 2013

Corruption Watch slams “Top Secret” Nkandla Report

Corruption Watch alarmed at State hiding behind a non-binding security policy 

Corruption Watch finds it particularly disturbing that a non-binding security policy is being used to classify the Nkandla upgrade report ‘top secret’ and therefore hiding its contents from the public.

Executive director, David Lewis commented: “given that this policy on classification is to be replaced by the Protection of State Information Bill, this cynical attempt to keep information of this sort secret reveals that true intentions of the Bill are to maintain secrecy over misconduct in the use of public funds rather than state security”.

The lack of transparency in the Nkandla homestead upgrade and the stance of the Department of Public Works (DPW) and State Security in using secrecy provisions contained in a policy document to justify non-disclosure was unacceptable, Lewis added.

Corruption Watch calls for immediate disclosure of all aspects of the Department of Public Works (DPW) report that legitimately fall outside of security provisions that are contained in existing enforceable legislation.

This call follows several request already made for Minister of Public Works, Thulas Nxesi, to explain why the entire DPW’S report into the upgrade of President Jacob Zuma’s Nkandla residence was declared classified. Corruption Watch has specifically called for disclosure of the names of the contractors engaged to perform upgrade work on Nkandla.

Lewis said the classification of the Department’s report as ‘Top Secret’ uses Minimum Information Security Standards (MISS), a policy which in any event only allows classification of a document as ‘top secret’ where disclosure of the information would ‘neutralise the objectives of the state’.

“How will disclosure of the contractors’ names, for example, have the potential to ‘neutralise the objectives of the state? Hiding this information is totally unacceptable and we will continue to challenge this decision,” added Lewis.

For further information:

David Lewis 082 567 3748

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