The five-year Plan of Action that the Department of Telecommunications and Postal Services signed with China in June this year has set alarm bells ringing at the DA.
Marian Shinn, shadow minister of telecommunications and postal services, last week submitted a Promotion of Access to Information Act (PAIA) application to the Minister of Telecommunications and Postal Services Dr Siyabonga Cwele for a copy of the document.
“Part of this plan includes cyber-security as an area of co-operation,” Shinn says. “The Chinese government’s cyber-security, domestic and global cyber-espionage and attacks, cyber censorship and Internet access management strategies are formidable and have earned it the reputation for repressing human rights, freedoms and political activities.
“Any co-operation between South Africa and China should ring alarm bells about what lessons an increasingly threatened ANC government will adopt to maintain power and counter opposition.”
Shinn says she has twice written to Dr Cwele requesting a copy of the agreement he signed with China as well as any position documents his department may have used to inform its provisions, but without success.
“His first response, in June this year, expressed puzzlement over the word ‘pact’ that I used to describe the agreement and then listed the subject headlines of the report. The signed document, as requested, was not provided.
“I wrote again on 16 July, requesting the document but have received no response. His office acknowledged receipt of my second letter on the same day. In the light of this apparent refusal by the Minister I have no option but to file a PAIA application.
“I believe it is critical for South Africans to be fully aware of the agreements signed on their behalf with foreign governments. This is particularly important where these governments have reputations for acts that are contrary to our Constitution and Bill of Rights.”