OGP Midterm Self Assessment

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The Department of Public Services and Administration have kindly distributed their draft mid-term self assessment report for comment. The assessment seeks to reflect on progress made in relation to the South African government's commitments. The Department have noted their interest in receiving feedback on the draft assessment.

Comments can be distributed directly to the Department of Public Services and Administration's Mabaeng Dlamini at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. as soon as possible.

Background on the Open Government Partnership
The Open Government Partnership (OGP) is a global effort for improving governance. South Africa was a founding member of the OGP, joining the partnership in 2011. It is a multilateral initiative that aims to secure concrete commitments from governments to promote transparency, empower citizens, fight corruption, and harness new technologies to strengthen governance. In the spirit of multi-stakeholder collaboration, OGP is overseen by a steering committee of governments and civil society organisations. You can visit their website, with access to all the main resources, here.

 

#HeroesUnderFire

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 ODAC is proud to announce the launch of our latest piece of extensive research on the lived experience of South African whistleblowers, "Heroes Under Fire".

Whistleblowers in South Africa are under threat as never before. A deepening culture of impunity and lack of accountability is making it harder for them to expose wrongdoing. When we consider the actual experiences of citizens who blow the whistle in South Africa, it becomes clear that the ambitious constitutional principles that promote transparency are not enough to create a safe environment that can fully foster corruption fighting. Whistleblowers in South Africa make decisions to blow the whistle based on their strong desire for justice, but because of these acts become isolated and vulnerable. While their stories should be read and considered as a way of acknowledging these often silenced voices, as an organisation, the Open Democracy Advice Centre has also been able to use these narratives to identify the key policy and legislative changes necessary to make the environment better for them.
Because of these stories ODAC is calling for dramatic and innovative changes to the legislative environment to encourage whistleblowers, and protect them more effectively. These recommendations come at an important time, as proposed amendments to the Protected Disclosures Act will be presented to Parliament during 2015.

Download a pdf version of the research here or contact ODAC about access to a hard copy version.

Minister of State Security's statement on cellular phone signal jamming in parliament

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MEDIA RELEASE BY THE MINISTER OF STATE SECURITY, MR. DAVID  MAHLOBO, MP, ON THE SIGNAL DISRUPTION IN PARLIAMENT ON THE OCCASION OF THE STATE OF THE NATION ADDRESS

18 FEBRUARY 2015

1. We wish to state that there was no executive or political decision to interfere with the free flow of information and constitutional obligations on transparency and openness during the State of the Address (SONA). The Minister responsible for State Security was also taken aback.

2. The mandate of the Security Cluster for the State of the Nation Address is to ensure the proper coordination of security planning of the event. This work is done through an operational structure called the National Joint Operational and Intelligence Structure (NATJOINTS) as a standard protocol for any major event in the Republic of South Africa. The NATJOINTS consist of Security Cluster Departments (who are permanent members) and other relevant Departments participate on an ad hoc basis depending on the nature of the event.

3.The security details and preparations are informed by the level of the security risk and threat assessment. The SONA event was rated major based on intelligence reported prior to the event which was unprecedented. Furthermore, given the magnitude of the event and the fact that all spheres of government, the three arms of the State, international invited guests, two former Heads of State and the general public were present, maximum security had to be effected.  

4. The State Security Agency (SSA) was responsible for the threat and risk assessment and supporting the SANDF efforts to enforce the airspace security.   The airspace security plan was also properly approved to supply security measures against low speed, low energy threats as well as the drones with minimal disruption to commercial aviation and related aspects.

5. Restricted Airspace around Parliament has been promulgated. An advisory notice to airmen (NOTAM A0445/15 & NOTAM C0331/15) was promulgated as well as temporary restricted airspace (AIRAC AIP Supplement S008/15).

6. The NATJOINTS Media Statement of the 11 February 2015 clearly indicated that “currently there is no fly zone over parliament and the areas surrounding it and this restriction will apply on the day of the event”.  “All aircrafts, aerodrones and unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVS) will not be allowed in this restricted airspace.”

7. This airspace security plan was executed with precision especially when the Deputy President and President were in transit until the time of taking of salute at the doorsteps of the parliament, estimated between 18:35-19:00.  However the application of this counter threat measure was prolonged beyond the normal operational requirements.

8. The signal disruption was caused by an operational error by the member on duty.  The operator failed to properly terminate the device and this impacted on proper access to some users of mobile phones. A departmental investigation is currently underway with a possibility of disciplinary action for those responsible for this operational failure.

9. The Department of State Security regrets the unintentional disruption of signal in certain parts of the parliamentary chambers.

10. It is within the mandate of the SSA to deploy these measures at various major events, rallies, occasions and events where the President who is the Head of State and Government including the Deputy President are in attendance and where threats and risk assessments justify such measures.

11. The deployment of these counter intelligence measures where the Head of State and Government attends is in line with international risks assessment and crisis management procedures.

12. In future the Department of State Security will ensure that its members in discharging their operational tasks handle their operations more diligently.

13. This operation was never intended to frustrate the parliamentarians, the media and anyone who attended parliament and the result of it not being switched off properly is highly regretted.

ENDS 

Media Enquiries: Mr. Brian Dube-0824183398

#SONA2105 and form over substance

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- By Gabriella Razzano

How quick social media began to broadcast the siren weeping of the pallbearers bearing the coffin of democracy last night. On Facebook and Twitter we wept about the deconsecrating of Parliament by the EFF protest at the 2015 State of the Nation address. Spending 3 years in law school does seem to drill in to it you an almost irrational love of institutions of democracy (who hasn’t done a Parliament selfie?), but our knee jerk emotional response needs to be ignored while we try and examine the changing face of South African politics.

At the heart, I do believe it is a tragic day when Parliament becomes a playground rather than a hallowed ground of a democratic state – but yesterday was not the day it happened. Yesterday, when the President took the podium to begin SONA, he did so making a great deal of effort to look unaffected. Perhaps he was. I described it to one friend as “trying to look like a lion swatting its tail at flies”. He seemed not to recognise, of course, that he had lost. Well, at least Parliament had. Calling in SAPS again made a tragically obvious show of the fact that the South African Parliament is the house of the President, rather than a check against total Presidential power. Of course it was the State of the Nation address, but let us not forget it is the same house that has failed to call the President to account for gross abuse of state funds.

And there in lies the rub – when did calls for decorum become more important the calls for fundamental justice and fairness? When did the substance behind our democratic institutions become less important than the prettiness of their face? Very quickly one man’s call for rules can become another man’s shackles.

I would suggest that the reason why the behaviour of the EFF in Parliament continues to garner support is because people see no need to keep sacred an institution that doesn’t serve them. Of course, for the people it does serve it is a different story. But the ANC should be cautious of treating Parliament, as it’s Mount Olympus.

Why is Parliament important? It is the source of the laws that express our rule of law. It is also vital as a check and balance for political power. And that is so obviously where it fails. It is not the house the President built – it is the house the Constitution built. And it when it refuses to contain Presidential abuse of the state through corruption, it fails to live up to its constitutional roots. It has ignored the needs of the South African public. It is unsurprising then that the public may not then want to rise up in honour of maintaining the dignity it has already shed itself.

So, not unusually, democratic concepts begin to be abused by those in power to maintain power like a deranged and clingy Gollum. And the way this is done is through focusing on the form of democracy, rather than its substance. I want to see a Parliament that upholds democracy. We need to explore post critically how Parliament can begin to redeem its own sanctity. We need to fight for the substance of that Parliament. The Constitution created it within a vision of what democracy should be.

Democracy might not be dead, but she is a little bruised. And calls by those in power to leave her alone seem a little bit misplaced when they are the one’s who tripped her down the stairs.