The Department of State Security continues to seriously undermine the legislative authority of the National Council of Provinces by shooting down amendments to the Secrecy Bill proposed by the ANC and stonewalling attempts by the Democratic Alliance (DA) to bring the bill into line with the Constitution and the Promotion of Access to Information Act.
The DA will today be writing to the Leader of Government Business in Parliament, Deputy President Kgalema Motlanthe, requesting urgent intervention in the continuing battle between the Department of State Security and Parliament on the Secrecy Bill.
Government needs to understand that once legislation is in Parliament, it needs to be dealt with in Parliament. Attempts by the Department of State Security seriously undermine the constitutional separation of powers between the Executive and the Legislature.
Deputy President Motlanthe must tell the Department of State Security to back off and leave the legislating to Parliament.
This is not the first instance in which the department and State Security Minister Siyabonga Cwele shows a complete disregard for the separation of powers. Earlier this year the department launched an unprecedented R3 million advertising campaign in an attempt to sell the Secrecy Bill to South Africans despite widespread rejection. The Minister and his Department also pre-empted the legislative process by selling the bill as if it was a done deal.
The DA will continue to push for the changes required to the bill to ensure that it is in line with the fundamental freedoms and human rights enshrined in our constitutional democracy, whether the Department of State Security likes it or not.
Alf Lees, DA Member of the NCOP for Kwazulu Natal