Today the Sunday Times carries a disturbing report on a “crackdown” in Parliament by state spies, which includes reported allegations against the Right2Know Campaign by State Security officials.
According to the report, SSA officials have warned Parliamentary staff that “certain NGOs, specifically Right2Know, were known to be agents working for foreign governments”. In an interview with R2K, the Sunday Times alleged that a connection to the US government was specifically mentioned.
Firstly, R2K wholeheartedly condemns this latest sign of the securitisation of Parliament.
As for the allegations made against us: R2K is a movement made up of ordinary people across South Africa who are in service to the constitutionally protected rights to freedom of expression and access to information. We are outraged, but not surprised, by the paranoia and utter disdain that the securocrats show for ordinary people and their organisations.
For the curious and the paranoid, R2K’s audited financial statements are published on our website, as are our funders and all key organisational documents, which is more than can be said for the SSA.
The security state’s paranoid belief that dissent from ordinary citizens must be the work of ‘shadowy outside forces’ is not new. In 2011, the Minister of State Security called us the “proxies” of “foreign spies” in a speech to Parliament. We’ve seen similar accusations levelled at unions like Numsa and Amcu, people’s movements like Abahlali baseMjondolo and the Treatment Action Campaign, and corruption-busting institutions like the Public Protector. The same was done to the Anti Privatisation Forum, the Anti Eviction Campaign, the Landless People’s Movement and others from the late 1990s onwards. These accusations are dangerous and irresponsible, but sadly not new.
We find the accusation that we might be in the service of the US government particularly laughable — given the US government’s sustained war on whistleblowers and its mass surveillance, which are in complete contradiction to our principles and our activism. We demand that State Security comes forward to explain itself — how exactly does R2K pose a threat to national security?
Organisations that demand openness and accountability are only a threat to the legitimacy of the corrupt, the insecure and the authoritarian.
We will not be deterred or intimidated. We will continue our campaign, openly and without fear, and invite others to join us. Our KZN, Gauteng and Western Cape structures meet once a month and are open to all who share our principles – contact your provincial coordinator for details via r2k.org.za.
Viva the Right2Know!