SONA Drama Part 8: Parliament knew about blocker

BY CHARL BOSCH - FEBRUARY 18, 2015

National Assembly Speaker Baleka Mbete has said that Members of Parliament were informed that a jamming device would be installed during President Jacob Zuma’s State of the Nation Address (SONA) for security reasons, but added that it was not meant to block coverage of the event.

Addressing members of the media before the first day of Parliament’s post-SONA debate yesterday, Mbete said that the device had been bought by the Department of State Security as a means to protect Zuma and Deputy President Cyril Ramaphosa, but that its function and effect had not been taken into account.

“It is an item we received as a report along with many other reports, without necessarily knowing the detail, in particular (the) effects, because it was an item dealing with what measures had to be taken for the protection, in particular, of the head of state and the deputy president,” she said.

Mbete also revealed that the cellphone blocking device belonged to the “state department” and that a detailed report by its owners would be submitted to Parliament as soon as possible. She however denied that Parliament had instructed the jam moments before Zuma’s speech, after journalists reported a complete loss in signal upon entering the chamber, which resulted in chants of “bring back the signal” erupting moments later.

“One issue I want to make very emphatically clear is that the media, as far as Parliament was concerned, was never a target or an issue in relation to the preparations for Sona,” CityPress quoted her saying.

 

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