Pretoria – South Africans will from now on have more say on the processes that lead to the identification of what exactly qualifies as critical infrastructure or the so-called national key points.
In a move aimed at improving transparency in the laws that govern the identification and protection of South Africa’s critical infrastructure, Cabinet has approved that the Critical Infrastructure Protection Bill 2016 be published in the Government Gazette for public comment.
The Bill repeals the National Key Points Act, of 1980 and puts forward measures to be in place for the protection and safeguarding of critical infrastructure.
For some time, South Africa has not tackled what has been termed the National Key Points Act. The National Key Points Act, which dates back to the apartheid era, has often been criticised as outdated and lacks transparency. It is envisaged that the new Bill will bring about drastic changes.
Parliament in Cape Town, the Union Buildings in Pretoria, the SABC in Johannesburg as well as official residences of the President and Deputy President are just some of the facilities identified as national key points. Key infrastructure such as airports, water facilities such as dams, and all structures that are critical to service delivery and the safety of South Africans, are deemed as critical infrastructure.
The Bill provides for different criteria for the classification of critical infrastructure, based on, among others, national security and vulnerability and a public list of all key points which would be regularly reviewed and tabled in Parliament.
The Bill is also said to be bringing about transparency in how authorities identify critical infrastructure.
Also the new Bill introduces a structure which is called a council that will be made up of officials from government and individuals from the private sector with the necessary expertise in identifying what qualifies as critical infrastructure. The body will advise the minister of police on what should be identified as critical infrastructure and why.
A Cabinet statement on Thursday said the Bill is geared to ensuring that South Africa maintains a robust and sustainable approach to the protection of critical infrastructure.
“This contributes to public safety, public confidence and the delivery of essential services,” it said.