Secrecy bill likely to be put off until next year

2012-10-18 00:00

THERE are growing indications that the controversial Protection of State Information bill (the so-called secrecy bill) could be finalised only next year.

This week’s meeting of the ad hoc committee handling the legislation was postponed yet again.

Among other things, the legislation deals with the classification of information as secret, the restrictions on the flow of that information, and the penalties should such classified information be disseminated.

The chairperson of the ad hoc committee, Raseriti Tau, said yesterday that the National Council of Provinces will pass a resolution next week to extend the deadline for finalising the legislation.

The current deadline is October 29.

Tau said yesterday the general impression that the ANC wants to force the legislation through parliament before the party’s national conference in Bloemfontein at the end of the year is false.

He denied that the repeated postponement of committee meetings has anything to do with slackness or with pressure regarding the sensitivity of the legislation. “It’s just difficult to get the committee members together.”

He conceded that despite all the committee meetings, the legislation still looks exactly the same as the controversial version passed by the National Assembly last year.

Several amendments are being considered, but none has yet been passed.

In response to Tau’s statements, Alf Lees, a DA representative on the ad hoc committee, said the party welcomes the ANC’s willingness to make concessions.

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