The Right2Know Campaign expresses solidarity with NUMSA – who were denied the right to assemble on 27-28 February outside offices of the National Energy Regulator of SA (Nersa) on the bounds that the NERSA Offices are a National Key Point.
We reject unequivocally the use of the National Key Points Act as a basis to subvert the basic right of South Africans to gather and protest. As NUMSA’s press statement (dated 24 February 2013) notes, the Act’s “vague and unconstitutional” powers have been unduly marshalled by state officials in denying ordinary citizens their basic freedoms.
The denial of NUMSA’s right to protest is yet another instance of a now well-documented pattern of abuse of this legislation by the State in denying ordinary citizens the right to protest peacefully. From curtailing the rights of environmentalists to picket outside oil refineries in Durban to preventing TAC activists protesting outside the Reserve Bank to keeping secret information pertaining to the expenditure on the security upgrades of the President’s private home in Nkandla.
As the Right2Know’s recent Secret State of the Nation report noted the number of institutions classified as key points has increased by 54% in the last 5 years. The State is actively promoting the use of this unjust law. Its sweeping powers deserve to be challenged.
The Right2Know Campaign has begun such a challenge. We continue to enjoin the SAPS to provide us with a complete list of National Key Points as requested in our PAIA application submitted last year.
Keeping secret that which the public has a right to know directly impacts our ability to democratically deliberate and engage. It further entrenches unaccountability in public and private bodies. The right to know and the right to protest therefore are inextricably linked.
NUMSA’s call for a detailed review of the Act as well as the immediate scrapping of the provisions that prevent the poor and the working class from exercising their legitimate right to protest is a step towards the Right2Know’s call for the National Key Points Act to be repealed.