South Africa President Jacob Zuma gives a press conference on July 29, 2013 at the Unions Building in Pretoria.
JOHANNESBURG - Can safeguarding the security of the president be used as an excuse to employ questionable tactics?
Over the past 10 days, both President Jacob Zuma&39;s security detail and his ministers have sparked controversy.
It&39;s got security and legal experts concerned about inconsistencies in the president&39;s security.
A recent incident shows that Zuma’s VIP protection unit will get physical if necessary, and his ministers in the security cluster will close rank to protect South Africa’s number one citizen.
“The national executive and parliament have got a responsibility to uphold national security – including that of the head of state – the president,” said State Security Minister Siyabonga Cwele.
But they don’t always get it right.
Last week the City Press uncovered how lax security around the president can be.
Conman Willi Breuer secured a meeting with Zuma in September last year.
A simple Google search shows he’s lived in South Africa illegally for at least eight years, and stands accused of fraud and financial impropriety.
Government has equated safeguarding the president to upholding the country&39;s national security. But is this principle applied universally?
Rory Steyn, who served as Nelson Mandela’s chief of security between 1996 and 1999, suggests that Breuer’s 2012 meeting with Zuma shows inconsistencies in the way the president is protected.
“There has to be some kind of pre-screening done. And if it hasn’t been done it is an indication of slipshod protection work,” said Steyn.
Legal analyst Pierre de Vos agreed, saying security measures were unevenly applied.
“Sometimes security seems to be important and other times security is completely waived. It seems to be invoked for certain purposes in certain cases,” said De Vos.
De Vos said government can&39;t use national security as an excuse when protecting the president.
“The government is conflating national security – the security of the state – with alleged threats to the security of one person: the president,” he said.