DA-led Cape Town will oppose the ANC’s forced sale of private security companies

Please find attached soundbites in English and Afrikaans by Geordin Hill-Lewis.

Last week, South Africans found out that President Cyril Ramaphosa had signed into law the Private Security Industry Regulation Amendment Act, which amounts to an assault on the right of South Africans to defend their families and communities from crime in the wake of the collapse of the South African Police Service (SAPS).

The Democratic Alliance (DA) rejects this draconian piece of legislation with the contempt it deserves. And, should the people of Cape Town return the DA to power on 1 November, we commit to protecting private security services, neighbourhood watches and all organisations that make Cape Town safer by working with these stakeholders to challenge this law all the way to the Constitutional Court if needs be.

Under section 26 of the Act signed by Ramaphosa, the government now has the power to “suspend the registration of a security business” if that business is not at least 51% South African-owned. In addition, article 20(2)(e) gives none other than Police Minister Bheki Cele the power to unilaterally “prescribe by regulation a different percentage of ownership and control.”

In one fell swoop, the legislation signed last week by Ramaphosa empowers the ANC national government to effectively expropriate the property of foreign investors by denying their companies the right to do business in South Africa unless they sell their majority stake. Worse still, clause 20(2)(e) gives Cele the power to unilaterally change the share of ownership required for a security company to operate in South Africa.

When this law was first considered by Parliament back in 2014, foreign embassies made it clear that this forced expropriation of the property of investors would violate the World Trade Organisation’s rules and could result in the expulsion of South Africa from preferential market access agreements.

But, ultimately, it is the people of South Africa – who have already been abandoned by Cele and SAPS in the face of rampant crime – who will bear the true brunt of this law. Some of the biggest security companies that help keep South Africans safe feature significant foreign-ownership. Over 550 000 South Africans work in the private security industry. This is nearly four-times more than the 145 000 police officers currently employed by SAPS.

If this new law is allowed to stand, Cele would gain the power to overnight cause hundreds of thousands of security officers to lose their jobs, and millions of South Africans to lose access to the private security companies that protect them when Cele cannot.

Of course, the only South Africans who will not be affected by this expropriation law is Ramaphosa, Cele and the rest of the ANC elite. None of them will ever need the services of a private security company, because they simply force taxpayers to pay for their personal security. As the DA recently revealed, taxpayers are now forced to spend R8 million per year on protection for each so-called “VIP,” at a total cost of R1.7 billion per year.

This latest effort to make citizens even more vulnerable to crime comes after Cele earlier this year announced his intention to scrap self-defence as a reason for owning a firearm. The pattern here is clear: while the ANC spends R1.7 billion in taxpayer money each year to keep themselves safe, they are systematically making it harder for other citizens, including Capetonians, to defend themselves, their families, and their properties from crime in the face of the collapse of SAPS.

The consequences of the failures of SAPS were on full display during the recent violent looting in KwaZulu-Natal and Gauteng. But just imagine how much worse it would have been if Cele got his way and prevented some of the biggest private security companies in South Africa from operating.

The DA will not allow the ANC to play power games with the lives of Capetonians. We have already committed to increasing support to neighbourhood watches and to expanding Cape Town’s law enforcement powers and deploying hundreds of additional local law enforcers to fix what SAPS and Cele have broken. And, with the support of the people of Cape Town on 1 November, the DA will also use every avenue at our disposal to challenge this draconian new law that will expropriate the ability of Capetonians to keep their families safe.

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