Standing Committee has classified info

Sunday, September 5, 2010

Pretoria - Members of Parliament requiring classified information on President Jacob Zuma's domestic and international travels should apply to the Joint Standing Committee on Defence.

The committee was established to deal with classified and sensitive information from the military, in recognition of the fact that the South African National Defence Force (SANDF) deals with sensitive information that can affect national security, said Department of Defence spokesperson Ndivhuwo Mabaya.

Procedure

Mabaya said the Ministry of Defence and Military Veterans would not release classified information and Members looking for information as part of Parliament's oversight function would have to use the proper procedure and apply to the committee.

"The ministry takes very serious the sensitive nature of the information in the military and also respects the fact that Parliament has established an appropriate committee to deal with sensitive and classified information," said Mabaya.

He added that it was in this committee that any sensitive and classified information from the SANDF must be tabled.

Mabaya's statement follows media reports suggesting that the Minister of Defence and Military Veterans, Lindiwe Sisulu, was hiding the travel details of the President and Commander in Chief of the SANDF, President Zuma.

Reply to Parliamentary question

In a written reply in the National Assembly, the minister answered a question regarding how many international and domestic flights were undertaken by the President using aircraft operated by the military, aircraft chartered by the military and commercial craft since May last year. She said the President had undertaken 27 international and 133 domestic flights.

However, regarding the question around the dates and places of departure and arrival and the total costs, Sisulu said the information was classified and may not be made public. She advised the Member to raise the question with the Joint Standing Committee of Defence and Military Veterans.

Mabaya said the Member had ignored proper procedure because they were more interested in media "grand standing" than receiving the information for oversight purposes.

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