ANC NEC members weighed in on info bill

2011-06-24 14:46

Cape Town - An ANC national executive member told the lawmakers to go back to the drawing board over the protection of informational bill, resulting in the party making major concession on the legislation.

The ANC on Friday announced that it had bowed to pressure on the controversial bill and would drop certain clauses that would bring it in line with the Constitution.

According to ANC MP Luwellyn Landers, who has led the ruling party's arguments in the committee drafting the bill, the rethink was a reaction to serious concern expressed by senior ANC members and civil society in the past six weeks.

"It was everybody, Luthuli House, NEC members, civil society, the Nelson Mandela Foundation, Cosatu."
Landers revealed that a member of the ANC's National Executive Committee, whom he did not name, had told lawmakers in no uncertain terms to go back to the drawing board.

"He said 'what the hell are you doing?'. It was strong language, I'm toning it down."

Promised changes

The governing party agreed to restrict the power to classify, which it had previously sought to extend to all organs of state, to bodies dealing directly with security and to scrap mandatory prison sentences for leaking secret information.

"We believe, and this is a formal proposal from the ANC, that the scope of application of the bill must be drastically reduced in so far as it applies to the authority to classify information," ANC MP Luwellyn Landers said.

"The minimum sentences in the bill, we propose be removed," he added of the provision widely seen as a threat to the media and whistle-blowers.

The party also agreed to appoint a retired judge to review classification, allowing independent oversight rather than leaving all power in this regard with the state security minister.


The concessions address three of the main objections raised to the bill by activist, academics, journalists and former ministers in the biggest outcry triggered by legislation since the end of apartheid.

Landers, spelled out the ANC's revised position a day after Parliament extended the deadline for the completion of the bill by three months.

He said the ANC had heeded calls that the bill could be used as a tool to cover up corruption.

"We want to state in very clear terms this morning that we are concerned about the possible abuse of the provisions of this act for the purposes of hiding corrupt activities."

He said the bill should be redrafted to ensure those who abused it to this end would suffer strong sanction.

"So we must do everything possible to ensure that we put in the bill provisions that not only penalise stringently any such attempt but methods that could be used to prevent that."


Opponents of the bill had termed it a return to apartheid-era state secrecy and vowed to refer it to the Constitutional Court for review.

Up till now, the ANC's response to the threats have been that chief state law advisor Enver Daniels was satisfied the bill would pass constitutional muster.

"It is not enough for Enver Daniels to come before the committee to say it is constitutional. I believe, every single clause in this bill, we have to ensure that it meets that requirement," Landers said on Friday.

Opposition parties welcomed the concessions, but added concerns remained, including the need to consider a public interest defence to protect the press and whistle-blowers.

Opposition parties welcomed the concessions, but added concerns remained, including the need to consider a public interest defence to protect the press and whistle-blowers.

"It is a vindication of the parliamentary legislative process in which we talk till we hear each other. It is good news indeed," Democratic Alliance MP Dene Smuts said.

Keeping a close eye

Murray Hunter, the co-ordinator of the Right 2 Know Campaign launched in opposition to the bill, welcomed the ANC's announcement.

He said the concessions were a bold move in the right direction but activists would watch closely whether lawmakers followed through on promises to limit the extent of classification of information.

"We are very pleased to see MPs take the first step in the right direction. We are at last having proper engagement, but no document has been tabled," he said.

"While they are proposing to limit the scope of the bill to the security cluster, we must now see that the cluster is limited in its power to classify information."

  • enragedcitizen - 2011-06-24 14:55

    this is great news. we the people spoke out and were heard! now if only they would muzzle malema

      Chris - 2011-06-24 15:02

      @ enragedcitizen Malema is not in parliament is the president of the ANC youth league and whatever is implemented is firstly discussed at the ANC NEC meeting. Malema has the right to speak his mind but he cannot take a decision alone. We only talk about different organisation during the election, after that even if is DA that has won we will call it South Africa government not the DA or ANC government. Wish u attend 1 of their meeting then you'll understand how decision is taken.

      thinkza - 2011-06-24 15:05

      @Chris: Malema has the right to speak his mind, but the line has to be drawn somewhere. I think racism and incitement is just the place to draw it.

      enragedcitizen - 2011-06-24 15:08

      yeah heres what our constitution says *(4) No person may unfairly discriminate directly or indirectly against anyone on one or more grounds in terms of subsection (3). National legislation must be enacted to prevent or prohibit unfair discrimination. (5) Discrimination on one or more of the grounds listed in subsection (3) is unfair unless it is established that the discrimination is fair. so its fine for him to discriminate and incite hatred?

      enragedcitizen - 2011-06-24 15:11

      and then i would like to draw your attention to this as well Everyone has the right to freedom of expression, which includes- (a) freedom of the press and other media; (b) freedom to receive or impart information or ideas; (e) freedom of artistic creativity; and (4 academic freedom and freedom of scientific research. (2) The right in subsection (1) does not extend to- (a) propaganda for war; (b) incitement of imminent violence; or (c) advocacy of hatred that is based on race, ethnicity, gender or religion, and that constitutes incitement to cause harm. And make note of 2 C

      Mike Webber - 2011-06-24 15:13

      DA and Democratic SA Constitution 1 - 0 ANC and their corrupt officials.

      saabnut - 2011-06-24 16:03

      Rather just shoot him.

      enragedcitizen - 2011-06-27 08:51

      i'm all freedom of speech when it isnt in breach of our constitution, the constitution consists of our highest laws of the country and malema continues to be in breach of them.

  • willieman - 2011-06-24 15:04

    Do not abuse the majority to pass dragonian laws,reason must prevail not emotions.

  • Cupra - 2011-06-24 15:05

    "We want to state in very clear terms this morning that we are concerned about the possible abuse of the provisions of this act for the purposes of hiding corrupt activities." Does it matter whether or not corruption is hidden? So much proven corruption happening now with no secrecy bill & yet nothing happens? Whistle blowers about the fire-chief dismissed? Thats all out in the open & what happens??????

  • Andrew - 2011-06-24 15:21

    A step in the right direction. The ANC have been complaining that the SA media are always negetive, however, if the ANC does positive stuff then the media will report positive now!!

  • Lab-Rat - 2011-06-24 15:33

    It's not like they're doing us any favours. We all know the bill wouldn't have stood a chance and I really don't think the cANCer can afford to taint their criminal reputation any further.

  • Iran999 - 2011-06-24 15:41

    Must have bee a BEEG scale to weigh any ANC MEC !!!

  • CTC - 2011-06-24 15:44

    Great news but just to reinforce this go and sign the petition at: We need another 1500 signatures before we can present to parliament

  • Johnny - 2011-06-24 16:01

    This must be terrible news for Fascists such as Manyi & Malema.

  • Doublepost - 2011-06-24 16:03

    Please do realise that they will still pass the bill, simply in a diluted form. This is how they will slowly erode your freedoms. Slowly but surely, bit by bit, until you are unaware of the last strands of freedom you have left. The media and people need to keep on fighting this until the ANC realises that it cannot pass any law that seeks to give the state more power. Remember, we rule the state, i.e. Zuma should be our bi@tch, and not the other way around! Please don't become content, this bill must be scrapped completely, never to see the light of day!

      thinkza - 2011-06-24 16:17

      That is quite right. They usually come with a big bang, then retract their statements and implement it in a lesser format. Like the Springbok logo: First it had to be removed entirely, then it had to move. Disarmament of the people went the same road. The same will happen with the toll roads... and this bill of course.

      Ozymandios - 2011-06-24 16:25

      About the best remarks of this whole debate. The ANC will present this angelic front now of how they listened to the "People" who stood up and squashed this whole story to benefit us all. But beware the smoke screen. Malema is also just a smokescreen with his rantings and ravings to take our attention away from the top ANC dudes actiosn which is to quielty go about stripping this country of everything they can whilst our attention is diverted on him. Being alert is vital now because if we do relax and think all is now hunky dory with this Info Bill in our favour then tomorrow we will wake up and find we are 20 steps behind. I never will trust a politician no matter who they are or say they represent, but I'll trust one before I ever trust an ANC representative.

  • crackerr - 2011-06-24 16:15

    A huge sigh of relief is in order. And of course compliments where they are due. Let's hope for a drastic and realistic re-look inside the ANC by ANC's themselves at how the country's prospects can be improved.

  • struth - 2011-06-24 16:21

    Hold on everyone. This bill has NOT been narrowed down to safeguard only Security Matters ie. espionage. Journalists may still be imprisoned if they print leaked information. There is still much ongoing discussion in the pipeline. Until the Bill is narrowed down to limit the extent of classification we are still not out of the woods. Thanks though to all the pressure groups who have strived to prevent this Bill from being pushed through in it's original form.

  • JadedJay - 2011-06-24 16:53

    Haha! Citizens of South Africa (1) - ANC and ANCYL (0)

  • TGIL - 2011-06-25 09:45

    Bright sparks, now you dumb cuuuunts think about how many other issues the whites have raised that you ignored. Took you long enough bushman brains

  • hos_ja - 2011-06-26 13:47

    Congrats Mr. Bond. Hopefully you won’t become less sociopathic!!!!

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