SONA Drama Part 9: Minister in damage control – Maynier

BY CHARL BOSCH - FEBRUARY 20, 2015

Democratic Alliance (DA) Shadow Minister of Defence and Military Veterans, David Maynier, has said that State Security, David Mahlobo, is undertaking damage control following the jamming of signals during President Jacob Zuma’s State of the Nation Address in Parliament last week.

Speaking at a briefing in Parliament, the minister stated that the blocking of signals was a glitch and that it had not been done intentionally to prevent journalists from reporting on the SONA.

“We discovered that the timing of the system, it went beyond that particular time that we had planned, and then we have discovered there was that particular operational fail,” he said, adding that the system was connected to the restricted airspace above Parliament.

On Wednesday, National Assembly Speaker, Baleka Mbete, said that the blocker was installed to protect Zuma and Deputy President Cyril Ramaphosa, and that its function and effect had not been determined.

In a statement on the party’s website, Maynier said that the State Security Agency (SSA) should never have played in a role with the SONA in the first place, and that the “threat to disrupt Parliament, or even embarrass the President, clearly falls outside the counter-intelligence mandate of the SSA.”

“The SSA could only have become involved in the proceedings surrounding the State of the Nation Address if there was a credible threat or potential threat of hostile acts of foreign intervention directed at undermining the constitutional order of the Republic, terrorism or terrorist activities, espionage, exposure of economic, scientific or technological secrets vital to the Republic, sabotage or serious violence directed at overthrowing the constitutional order of the republic.

“The SSA’s role in the State of the Nation Address, and the signal disruption scandal, illustrated the paranoia that has accompanied the rise of the securocrats under President Jacob Zuma.,” he said, adding that the party would be calling for a multi-scale ad hoc investigation.

Zuma has meanwhile assured journalists that the jamming of signals in the National Assembly would never happen again, and that they had no prior knowledge of it, until the matter was raised by DA Chief Whip, John Steenhuisen, which resulted in his speech being delayed for over 15 minutes.

“Rest assured that will never happen again and we did not know about it and we are condemning it. It was uncalled for,” he told members of the South African National Editors Forum (SANEF) at a briefing in Pretoria earlier today.

“We should better the relationship and be able to communicate as often as possible... We are all patriots of the country and we want to promote the country,” he said.

SANEF Chairman, Mpumelelo Mkhabela, has said that they accept Zuma’s apology, but added that the issue could have been addressed much earlier.

“There was no need for the president's state-of-the-nation address to be disturbed, for the first time in history. It is an issue we could have addressed early, as he correctly pointed out, and it's regrettable and will never happen again and we take his word for it.”

 

CAPTION: Journalists protesting the lack of signal in the National Assembly during President Jacob Zuma’s State of the Nation Address in Parliament last week. IMAGE sourced from timeslive.co.za

 

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