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Speech by the ANC MP, comrade Leonard Ramatlakane at occasion of the Critical Infrastructure Protection Bill debate

Speech by Hon. Leonard Ramatlakane at occasion of the Critical Infrastructure Protection Bill debate National Assemble Cape Town, 28 August 2018

Honourable Speaker,
I rise to support the Critical Infrastructure Protection Bill as proposed by the African National Congress.
We have come to a time and place where we make sure that our national critical infrastructure must be protected in accordance with our constitution.
When the Fees Must fall movement shook the conscience of the nation with their protests at Parliament in October 2015, there were debates about the apartheid provisions and the constitutional limitations of the National Key-Points Act.
There were calls to replace the National Key Points Act,1980 (Act No. 102 of 1980).
This Critical Infrastructure Protection Bill answers that call.
Honourable Speaker, honourable Members, the Portfolio Committee on Police interrogated the provisions of the Bill and went beyond the bounds of the duty to accommodate the concerns of civil society, business and departments who made submissions to the Committee.
We are confident that this Bill will be able to protect the critical infrastructure in the country as a process has been agreed on by all parties after extensive research, debate and deliberation.

Our people are entitled to fair processes and we have taken into account that the definitions of Critical infrastructure has become much broader than previously anticipated.
The Bill is harmonised with other legislation such as;
* the National Strategic Intelligence Act, 1994 (Act No. 39 of 1994),
* the Regulation of Gatherings Act, 1993 (Act No. 205 of 1993),
* the Disaster Management Act, 2002 (Act No. 57 of 2002),
* the Promotion of Access to Information Act, 2000 (Act No. 2 of 2000),
* the Promotion of Administrative Justice Act, 2000 (Act No. 3 of 2000) and
* the Firearms Control Act, 2000 (Act No. 60 of 2000).
We have acknowledged that the Court order by the High Court on the publication of the National Key Points was necessary- and this Bill makes provisions for the declaration of infrastructure as Critical Infrastructure. Furthermore its excludes infrastructure under control of the Department of Defence.
We have listened to the submissions from civil society and invoked private public partnerships in the form of the Critical Infrastructure Council.

Honourable Speaker and Honourable Members, the Bill provides for the establishment and composition of a Critical Infrastructure Council that must consist of thirteen members appointed by the Minister of Police.
The Council will consist of a mix of eight State officials and five persons from the private sector and civil society.

We are happy that for once, the politics will be taken out and declaration of infrastructure as critical infrastructure will be handled correctly with the transparent role by this Critical Infrastructure Council. For continuity, the members will be appointed for a period of 5 years.
The principle of regular physical assessments and evaluation of critical infrastructure and compliance with the intention of the Bill has been well-established in the Bill through the role of Inspectors who are designated members of the SAPS and at least a warrant officer.
I want to state that the African National Congress is leading in its commitment to all South Africans by accommodating views, listening and now tabling this good Bill.
In it we now have a better sense of the peculiarities of critical infrastructure by making the declaration much more transparent.
Having said that, as the ANC we are not abdicating our responsibility to protecting our critical infrastructure and national security interests.
We will not do it to appease anyone at the expense of national security imperatives.
We have responsibility even to the noise makers or those whose interest is just SoundBites.
There are exemptions and restrictions of certain persons to enter critical infrastructure.
This exemption does not apply in respect of any member of the security services established in terms of section 199 of the Constitution, in the performance of his or her function to enter any critical infrastructure.

Honourable Speaker, we spoke to the trade union movement, business, civil society and government departments when we crafted this piece of legislation.
We listened to legal opinions, we deliberated and we were convinced that we have here a piece of legislation that will serve South Arica`s best interest and we are agreed that the Bill allows for far more than when we started the process.
We have changed the clause which did not allow for photographing such a Critical Infrastructure, changed the offences and penalties section and we were guided on a number of clauses in this Bill that would possibly infringed constitutional rights.
I want to note that there is a role for the Minister of Police and a role for the National Commissioner of Police. We intend to ensure that they play their defined roles.
There is a specific process for the declaration of an infrastructure as a critical infrastructure and the Minister can only declare such infrastructure after the recommendation by the Critical Infrastructure Council.
Honourable Chair, the process it is fair to all parties concerned, the process is transparent and there are offences which is intended for people who make public security features that are intended to be secret.

Honourable Speaker, I want to state that we have taken into account the very strong arguments from organisations who argued that the public interest defence should be allowed.
We have considered it and after legal opinion, opted to attend to - in redrafting the offences and penalties section.
Honourable members, we are satisfied. We have a strong piece of legislation.
We support the Critical Infrastructure Protection Bill.
I thank you.

     
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