AfriForum has instructed its legal team to direct a letter to Pres. Cyril Ramaphosa in which the civil rights organisation expresses its concern regarding the establishment of the National Security Council and South African National Security Secretariat.
According to the Government Gazette of 10 March 2020, these institutions have already been authorised and promulgated by Pres. Ramaphosa.
The National Security Council is composed of, among others, the Ministers of Defence and Military Veterans, Police, as well as Justice and Correctional Services.
The mandate of this council is to ensure and regulate national security in South Africa. The council must furthermore also coordinate the operations of all security services and law enforcement authorities and obtain information reports.
“The establishment and promulgation of these structures are being carried through in a time when the country is experiencing a crisis and the economy is seriously suffering from the effects of the COVID-19 pandemic. It creates the feeling that the government is abusing the situation to put in place unconstitutional power structures while the rest of the country’s attention is focused on COVID-19 and the regulations of lockdown,” says Ian Cameron, AfriForum’s Head of Community Safety.
Cameron furthermore says that if the current structures in all the security forces and sections in the state are managed like it is supposed to be managed, it would never even have been necessary to consider something like this.
In the letter to Pres. Ramaphosa, AfriForum requests, among others, clarity surrounding the purpose for the establishment of these structures, the period that these structures will exist and the type of legislation which backs up the president to establish the structures.
AfriForum also insists that the promulgation of these structures be repealed in a similar manner seeing as these structures are paving the way to change South Africa into a police state and thereby creating the opportunity for far-reaching abuse of power.
“According to AfriForum, as well as a legal opinion gathered by the organisation, the institution of these structures is unconstitutional, seeing as the Constitution clearly sets out how information services employed by the state must be handled – particularly due to the risk of abuse. These structures are creating the perfect opportunity for the state to increasingly collect personal information of citizens and use it under the cover of ‘national security’,” says Marnus Kamfer, Law and Risk Manager for Community Safety at AfriForum.
If the president does not react favourable to the letter, AfriForum does reserve the right to approach the Constitutional Court in order to test the legality of the structures.