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Thursday, 17 November, 2016
Quote of the week
"Access to the internet and related technologies is a core concern for government‚ civil society‚ and the private sector‚ which has led to collaborative efforts between public and private players to expand the information and communication technology sector"
- Freedom House.
Comment of the week
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Auditor General, Internet, Bill…
In this week’s edition of NGO Pulse, we look at the report on irregular government spending by the Auditor-General Kimi Makwetu.
The report on national and provincial department's audit outcomes released on Wednesday revealed that irregular expenditure has increased by almost 40% since 2013/14 to R46‚36-billion.
The Auditor-General said the controls that should be put in place in the procurement process were derived from the constitutional requirements of supply chain management as set out in section 217 of the Constitution and it singled out continued non-compliance with supply chain management legislation as the main reason for the increase in irregular expenditure.
Makwetu said six auditees were responsible for just over 50% of the irregular expenditure in 2015/16, these include the Passenger Rail Agency of SA (Prasa)‚ KwaZulu-Natal and Mpumalanga health departments‚ the road and transport and human settlements departments in Gauteng and the department of water and sanitation.
The report classifies the status of the internet in South Africa as “free” however it classifies the status of press freedom as “partly free”.
The report further notes that access to quality and relatively affordable internet is growing‚ primarily among low income communities through government-subsidised WiFi projects across the country. Tshwane‚ Johannesburg and Cape Town are some of the cities whose governments introduced free public WiFi.
The report also raises concerns about the Cybercrimes and Cyber Security Bill as a possible threat to internet freedom in the country. The proposed bill is drafted to create offences and impose penalties which have a bearing on cybercrime.
The Cybercrimes and Cybersecurity Bill is expected to be introduced to parliament before the end of the year and anxiety around it still abounds. Critics argue that it gives too much power to government with not enough leeway for public interest. Critics are particularly concerned about its impact on investigative journalism.
There is agreement across the board that there is a need for legislation to protect South Africa’s cyber landscape. When the draft Cybercrimes and Cybersecurity Bill was published in August 2015 for public comments, it was accompanied by a statement from The Department of Justice and Constitutional Development that read, “It is estimated that cyber-related offences are escalating and currently exceed a value in excess of R1-billion annually.” It explains that the Bill aims to create safer communities by addressing shortcomings in dealing with cyber related offences through a coherent and integrated cybersecurity legislative framework.
Micah Reddy, Right2Know’s media freedom and diversity campaign coordinator, has said repeatedly that the Bill is too broad and effectively gives state security control over the internet. Reddy says that should it come into law, it would have dire consequences for investigative journalists who could face five to 15 years in prison for being in possession of leaked classified documents, depending on whether the information was classified as confidential, secret or top secret.
Click here to read the full article.
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