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Info bill open to abuse - press club

2012-02-14 14:16

Pretoria - Had it not been for the media and whistle-blowers, many instances of corruption would not have been exposed, the National Press Club (NPC) said on Tuesday.

The protection of state information bill in its present form would lead to wide classification of information, NPC chairperson Yusuf Abramjee told a public hearing on the draft legislation in Mamelodi, outside Pretoria.

"The bill in its current form is clearly open to abuse. It provides for wide-ranging powers, relating to the classification [of information]," said Abramjee.

"Officials, including junior civil servants and members of security services, are authorised to classify documents with the head of departments."

Abramjee said this was in conflict with another clause in the bill which stipulated that classification had to be done on a senior level. Whistle-blowers were going to be scared "to lift the lid on corruption", fearing long jail terms.

Public interest clause

He appealed to the National Council of Provinces (NCOP) to consider including a public interest clause in line with the dictates of the Constitution.

"We cannot sit back and allow unconstitutional laws to be passed. Editors and journalists are prepared to go to jail defending our freedom," said Abramjee.

Another contributor, Amos Mkhontho, said that as a member of the ANC's MK Veterans he believed the bill, if passed, would take South Africa backwards.

"Do you still remember those days we used to read newspapers hiding under carpets? We do not want those days to come again. Look at countries like Zimbabwe who have such laws. Their people have fled to our country."

Most of those participating in the hearing took the opportunity to voice problems with service delivery around Mamelodi.

"Our identity documents show that we have voted continually. Our lives are not evident of people enjoying democracy," said one woman to the applause of the floor.

Residents gradually filled and eventually packed the church hall where the hearings took place.

Two public hearings on the so-called secrecy bill are scheduled in Gauteng. The second takes place in Sharpeville, near Vereeniging.

- Are you there? Send us your eyewitness accounts and photos

Comments
  • ivan.coetzee2 - 2012-02-14 14:26

    So sad when you have a government that has to legislate the population into silence, cos they the government is so very corrupt! RSA may even grow up to be just like Nigeria, woohoo!!

      Shadoz66 - 2012-02-14 16:29

      if this bill is passed it is just a matter of time before the whole country is just like Limpopo. The Anc don't care about the people they only care for themselves

  • tsebitlo - 2012-02-14 14:28

    LET THE TRUTH BE HEARD ,,,MEDIA SHUD PLAY ITS FREEDOM PART OF EXPOSING THE BAD GUYS

      Sean - 2012-02-14 15:13

      Correct, but they do not control media outside of SA. So, there is no way in hell that the current gov't can stop people publishing their articles on an internet based medium with an address that is not.co.za. There are many ways to skin this cat. So ya cANCer try and regulate all you want, after all, all you are doing is covering your inept, incompotent corrupt arses, the internet and other offshore media is still avaialble

  • John - 2012-02-14 14:38

    After Idols and x-Factor.... Please welcome South African version of Leaky Leak ! How can you stop the voice of freedom? With stupid laws as such? "Editors and journalists are prepared to go to jail defending our freedom" - This makes me realy proud!

  • Gerhard - 2012-02-14 14:56

    Zuma is an enemy of the constitution. What do you expect from a man without any formal education? I am sure his cabinet ministers must be laughing behind his back every day.

      Anthony - 2012-02-14 15:41

      sure they laugh behind his back but they also laugh all the way to the bank --hence their need for this legislation

      Gary - 2012-02-14 16:12

      That is not the isseu here, Information bill that needs to be voted for: intead of criticising what we don't have prove of my brother or Sister.

  • braamc - 2012-02-14 14:58

    The ANC is nothing but filthy thieving c***nts

      Gary - 2012-02-14 16:09

      The bill needs to be debated not to criticised whiles our media is hiding their fears by lobiying for our support. We need the truth, yes but is the media doing? Not exposing the fly by night Companies on their news papers everyday. Lets vote for this bill and that will be fair enough.

  • Stephen - 2012-02-14 15:05

    The media is holding this democracy together. These thieving bastard in government, make me f@#king sick.

  • Gary - 2012-02-14 15:39

    Sometimes when the media report the matter they ussually intefere with the investigations and claiming that they've exposed corruption of which there is no truth on that. They make millions of Rans from fly by night Companies, FET's and Foreign Companies which claims they are paying huge ammounts in Dollas. Knowing that our communities out there goes hungry without food at the end of the day they kept quiet with those fly by night Institutions and came out claiming to be fighting corruption. Many of our people are in foreign jails serving sentenses after getting advertisements on the media. How is media as they claim taking care of that or we need protection from you guyz(media). Letting alone things you need to expose, our people in this country needs your protection also from fly by night.......

  • Phumi - 2012-02-14 15:44

    We cannot keep on debating and consulting this bill forever at some point we need to stop and make a decision. These lobby groups cannot keep on holding us and the rest of ordinary South Africans hostage. The committee decided that this bill is correct in its current form and we have made over 325 amandments on it already. I say let's take it to parliament in its current form and vote in the national assembly. In that way democracy would have been served!

      Gary - 2012-02-14 16:03

      That would be true democracy and less noise as what is corruption and what is not the bill needs to be tested in parliament.

      Ally - 2012-02-14 17:39

      You are out of your mind! Hijacking is a national pastime in SA and the ANC will hijack and manipulate and connive until it gets this bill through. It is the thin edge of the wedge. If you think the Nats were bad with their 90-day detention, suppression of communism, bannings, house arrest etc, you'd better watch out. The ANC will have the means to introduce all those things and more without being held accountable. THAT is what the info bill is about: SUPPRESSION of information

      Ben - 2012-02-14 18:52

      Phumi please google 'corruption' and understand that this is what the bill is all about.

  • Ronald - 2012-02-14 16:46

    The best method of public participation that the ANC government can ask for is to put this proposed legislation to the vote. The way they are going about this just proves that they have ulterior motives that will be dangerous and severely detrimental to the man on the street. That is why they are keeping this information and the impact that this will have from the uneducated and uninformed. Looking at the comments that Zuma has regarding the Constitutional Court Judges, the pushing of the Info Bill, the demise of the Scorpions, the lack of action regarding the findings of the Public Protector, the rot that has been allowed to set in amongst the armed forces and the police, the lack of action regarding fraud and corruption in the government, you can only conclude that Zuma is slowly eroding the voter's ability to resist whatever plans he has for the future, and we are most definitely not included.

  • Ally - 2012-02-14 17:32

    Remember Black Tuesday? How many people still dress in black every Tuesday to keep alive the protest against this bill? Some do; many don't. In order to ensure we have a lifetime of free information and free Tuesdays, make the effort to mark this day with black until the abhorrent bill is scrapped.

  • Piet - 2012-02-14 18:08

    The media helped the ANC into power, now the ANC will spit them out and destroy them. Sad sad supression

  • Reynold - 2012-02-14 18:09

    The information bill was created so that the media and others cannot interupt the gravy train, especially when it is a fat amount to be taken from the poor. It was also created to hide lazy, incompident elected people from loosing out of easy money. This is always the best solution to save face with public.

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