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PRETORIA, South Africa – While most Americans might think of South Africa’s Zulu tribe as brave, spear-carrying warriors loyal to an ancient culture, its leader is overseeing the implementation of a futuristic, national “smart card” system that critics claim has Orwellian overtones.

Mangosuthu Buthelezi, the South African minister for home affairs and head of the Zulu tribe, insists that he is a liberty-loving person who has no designs on implementing “1984″-style control over South Africa’s masses. Critics, however, disagree.

HANIS is the acronym for Home Affairs National Identification System.

“The HANIS smart card is frightening on many levels. It’s worse than the dompas, or pass system, we had under apartheid,” South African policewoman Ansurietta Wolfardt told WorldNetDaily.

“It is nothing short of a lightning rod for social control over the masses. Once the Zulus opposed the ANC, but now the ANC has co-opted the Zulu leadership in many respects. I hope Buthelezi understands the implications of what he is indeed proposing.”

The computer system that controls HANIS cost the South African government 1 billion rand to build. The smart card, says Buthelezi, will cost 2 billion rand to dispense to all South Africans. The rand now stands at 10 to U.S.$1.

This new smart card will replace South Africa’s ID books. Under apartheid, blacks and whites carried the ID books everywhere.

“It was sort of an internal passport system, an ugly thing that reminded one of the Soviet way of life,” said Christian Sese, a nurse from KwaZulu in Natal Province.

“We want to put this era behind us. It is the old baggage of the worst of apartheid. But now the ANC wants to update this system.”

The ANC will run HANIS out of the New Cooperation Building in Pretoria. The ANC uses apartheid-era language in explaining the need for HANIS. For example, the Department of Home Affairs website says HANIS is needed due to the “social diversity in the makeup of communities [with various] levels of civilization and literacy [that] determine the extent to which the subjects can be governable.”

The HANIS smart card will include a chip that stores data on a person’s identity, driver’s license, spousal details, photographs, fingerprints, marriage and other major “life events,” medical information, including each person’s last ten doctor visits and prescriptions, welfare, employment data, spending style and movements around the nation. The card also will have a financial function so it can be used as a debit card.

Not surprisingly, this system was a dream of the P.W. Botha government in the 1980′s under apartheid, which at that time was fending off a Marxist revolution inside the nation and fighting a war against Cuba and the Soviet Union in Angola and Southwest Africa (now Namibia).

“Who would have thought that the ANC could and would pull off what the apartheid controllers only conceived of?” South African Intelligence Officer Henda Van Slade asked WND. “Who would have thought that the computers the West’s military-industrial complex dreamed of in the 1950s would one day become ordinary home appliances capable of espionage and monitoring the public?”

According to the Department of Home Affairs, in the future visitors to South Africa will be given a temporary HANIS cards upon arrival. This may help with South Africa’s massive illegal immigration that comes from its impoverished northern neighbors like Zimbabwe, which is currently gripped by famine.

South Africa has seen the growth of “Big Brother”-type legislation even before the implementation of HANIS. According to the Sunday Times of May 12, “Casinos, estate agencies, law firms, insurance brokerages and motor car dealerships are among 19 commercial institutions which will now be forced by law to report suspicious transactions to a new, anti-money laundering unit. The Financial Intelligence Center will collect and analyze information and pass it on to the South Africa Police or Scorpions [an elite anti-crime unit] to investigate. At present, only banks are required by law under the Prevention of Organized Crime Act to report suspicious transactions.”

The funds to implement the HANIS system was approved by the ANC’s ruling Cabinet in 1996. In 1999, the actual contract to build HANIS was awarded to the Marpless Consortium, which is a combined venture of South Africa’s IT company Plessey and Japan’s Marubeni trading house.

Under apartheid, South Africa had a close relationship with Japan. For instance, Japanese travelers had “honorary white status” inside South Africa, and the apartheid government furnished the gold for the Hirohito commemorative coin.

Reportedly, various departments in South Africa’s new government will act as a check upon one another. The police, banks and others seeking information on individuals will have to apply for that specific information from a specific department.

Getting the DIRT

More troubling to South African privacy advocates is “DIRT” or the computer software tool known as “Data Interception by Remote Transmission.”

This new technology will act “as a mini Echelon network” inside South Africa, says Woldfardt.

DIRT, built in New York State by Codex Data Systems, will be run by the National Defense Force intelligence division and the cyber crimes arm of the South African Police. DIRT allows these government personnel to hack into any remote computer.

How does DIRT work? It sends an e-mail to a specific computer with a “bug” as an attachment. The bug then buries itself into that particular computer and begins to send data back to the National Intelligence monitors. DIRT also monitors each keystroke on a computer keyboard and thus can steal any password.

Concluded Van Slade, “This is virtual apartheid control, ANC-style, by the back door.”

Related stories:


Apartheid in the rearview mirror


South Africa’s ANC stained by scandal

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