Today the Right2Know Campaign releases its 2014 ‘Secret State of the Nation’ report, a snapshot study of trends, patterns and challenges with secrecy in South Africa.
The report’s key findings include signs of abuse of secrecy and continued securitisation of some parts of the state:
- Increasing limitations on protest, with a sharp increase in attacks on protesters: there is a general upward trend in the number of protesters killed by police, and complaints of assault and attempted murder by police.
- Continued increase of the use of state-security policies such as the National Key Points and Strategic Installations with no public oversight.
- Lack of public oversight of surveillance capacity which remains vulnerable to abuse.
- Signs that secrecy and security-state capacity are being used to shield political actors from embarrassment and scrutiny, in particular the office of the Presidency and President Zuma himself.
At the same time we look at continued shortcomings in existing transparency mechanisms:
- Existing research shows that access to information mechanisms are failing: the most recent monitoring report of the PAIA Civil Society showed that only 16% of requests resulted in full release of information. This is the lowest success rate since monitoring began in 2009.
- There is too little proactive release of information.
- The transparency mechanisms of the private sector continue to be overlooked. In this report we examine case studies of transparency struggles involving the extractive industries.
It is worth noting that the report has been hampered by lack of access to information; many of the metrics of secrecy remain secret.
The 2013 report is available here.