Info bill hearings move to Bloemfontein

2012-02-07 07:25
Bloemfontein - Public hearings on the protection of state information bill are scheduled to continue in Bloemfontein in the Free State on Tuesday.

The hearings, organised by a Parliamentary ad hoc committee, took place in Gugulethu and Thembalethu in the Western Cape and in Mthatha and Port Elizabeth in the Eastern Cape last week.

Committee chairperson Raseriti Tau said the hearings fulfilled a need to educate people on what the bill was about.

However, Tau came under fire from opposition parties and activists who said the hearings had been manipulated to mislead the public and manufacture support for the contested draft law.

The Democratic Alliance said that at the hearing in Port Elizabeth on Thursday members of the party had been denied a chance to speak.

The Right2Know campaign complained that the ANC misrepresented the bill at the first two public hearings in the Western Cape.

The ANC drove the bill through the National Assembly in November, despite widespread concern that it would inhibit investigative media reporting and whistle-blowing on corruption.

Media houses, civil rights groups and the Congress of SA Trade Unions have vowed to challenge the bill in the Constitutional Court if it is adopted without incisive amendments.

The ad hoc committee plans to hold at least two public hearings in every province, ending with the Northern Cape on March 1. This will be followed by a further hearing at Parliament a fortnight later.

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