When GCIS announced that they would be responding to the Right2Know Campaign’s Secret State of the Nation report, we welcomed the possibility of a meaningful engagement with its empirically grounded contents, which confirm the worrying trend towards secrecy in South Africa today.
It was thus with great disappointment that we read GCIS’s statement today, entitled ‘Government refutes Right2Know’s unfounded claims’. The statement is strong on rhetoric but devoid of any engagement with the substance of the report.
GCIS has ignored basic empirical evidence that confirms the overall failure of government officials to comply with the Promotion of Access to Information Act. Figures from the South African History Archive reveal that 64% of information requests in 2012 were refused or ignored. Factual evidence derived from government’s own figures further reveal the growing number of institutions classified as National Key Points (a 54% increase in the last five years). Additional research presented in the Report confirms the high levels of information currently classified as secret, and the high number of government departments that have refused to disclose how many secret documents they have classified.
Today’s GCIS statement appears more as a conscious attempt to slander and obfuscate than to illuminate and engage. Our government should be leading the promotion and defence of our democracy. Its communications services should be setting the standard for transparent and honest engagement with citizens. R2K would welcome meaningful engagement and a substantive public debate on the findings of its report.
GCIS should be taking its cue from Guinea-Bissau’s revolutionary leader, Amilcar Cabral, who famously wrote: “Hide nothing from the masses of our people. Tell no lies. Expose lies whenever they are told. Mask no difficulties, mistakes, failures. Claim no easy victories.”
For comment, please contact:
R2K National: Murray Hunter, 072 672 5468
R2K Gauteng: Dale McKinley: 072 429 4086
R2K Western Cape: Nkwame Cedile, 078 227 6008
R2K KZN: Desmond D’Sa, 083 982 6939