13 December 2017

South Africa: No to State of Emergency Regulations!

press release

R2K is outraged to see confirmation that a government task team has been working in secret to draft new 'State of Emergency' regulations - effectively to create pre-conditions for a future clampdown on public life in South Africa. Today the Right2Know Campaign is demanding that the relevant government departments bring this information to light, through a series of information requests that we are making using the Promotion of Access to Information Act (PAIA).

There is no such thing as a 'good' State of Emergency. But the draft regulations that are circulating are especially draconian. (Download them here.)

The provisions of the regulations include:

A gag on 'disruptive statements' - any statement which incites people to protest or take part in civil disobedience, or which promotes "feelings of hostility" towards any person, the government or the security services.

Provisions to effect an 'internet shutdown' by switching off cyber and phone networks.

Empowering members of the security services to arrest or search any person if their presence or conduct "may endanger the safety of the public or the restoration or maintenance of peace and order"

In other words, under a State of Emergency, these regulations would suspend almost all political rights for people across South Africa.

The fact that these regulations have been drafted in secret, and to date no government bodies have owned up to their role, is especially outrageous.

All of this suggests a ruling elite that fears its people; the securocrats in the state have shown that they are increasingly willing to resort to coercion and closing down the space for open dialogue and expression.

Today R2K is submitting PAIA requests to the Department of Justice & Constitutional Development, the South African Police Service and the South African National Defence Force. These requests are for records of deliberations on draft State of Emergency regulations, including minutes of meetings and the draft regulations in their current form.

R2K will continue its work to push back against securocrats tightening their hold on power. We will remain steadfastly opposed to any attempt to corrode our public sphere with bully tactics disguised as law enforcement.

We call for the regulations in any shape and form to be scrapped and abandoned immediately. This country's real emergencies are to be found in unlit streets where women fear to walk, in classrooms where the education system is failing our children, and in crowded settlements where land and housing and decent jobs remain elusive to millions of people. If the government cares for its people, these are the crises it must attend to.

We say #NoToAStateOfEmergency!

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