DA shadow Minister of Telecommunications and Postal Services Marian Shinn has asked the telecommunications department to publicize the intent of their internet talk with the Chinese government which is expected to take place this weekend in Durban.
Revealing the topic of the internet talk to be centered around e-government, e-commerce, and cybersecurity,” Shinn said the meeting will be hosting the Vice-Minister of Cyberspace Administration in China, Xiujun Wang.
In a statement released today, Shinn said she has written to Deputy Minister of Telecommunications, Prof Hlengiwe Mkhize to release the agenda and outcomes of the closed-door meeting she is hosting which will follow a round table discussion on internet issues between the Chinese government and business representatives, as well as their South African counterparts at the Hilton Hotel.
“The DA maintains that the Chinese are an inappropriate source of counsel in terms of the internet sphere. China has a dubious reputation as being one of the world’s most repressive internet regimes, clamping down on political opponents, journalists and citizens critical of the government. Added to this, China is also known as an enthusiastic cyber warfare practitioner,” she said.
Speaking further, Shinne said the party’s major concern stemmed from the refusal of both the Minister of Telecommunications and Postal Services, Siyanbonga Cwele to name the South African and Chinese government representatives, most likely cabinet Ministers, who signed the ICT co-operation past last year.
“What is suspicious is that the invitation to this week’s event reminds invitees of an agreement to work on cyber security; a copy of that agreement, secured via a Public Access to Information Act (PAIA) application censored the names and signatures of the signatories. Repeated requests for the names to be revealed have been denied for ‘security’ reasons.”
“This obsessive secrecy rings alarm bells about what restrictive actions our ANC-led government plans for internet-based communication as its electoral prospects are severely diminished in the upcoming Local Government Elections. The DA will continue fighting for government transparency as this is one of the fundamental pillars of a democracy. We will not allow the ANC to stifle the democratic process by intimidating internet users.”