Marches against info bill

2010-10-27 09:20

Cape Town - The Right2Know campaign will round off a week of action to highlight concerns over the possible introduction of the protection of information bill with marches in Durban and Cape Town, the organisers said.

"The campaign is gaining ground and the minister of state security is retreating," they said ahead of the marches.

The intention of the bill is to widen the type of information the government can classify and critics believe this will lead to arbitrary classification of information to avoid scrutiny of possible wrongdoing by government officials.

They believe that even with changes proposed by Minister of State Security Siyabonga Cwele, the bill would still "choke the free flow of information".

The Cape Town march is expected to begin at 10:00 from Keizersgracht Street at the Cape Peninsula University of Technology and end at Parliament at noon.

Durban marchers will start gathering at Botha's gardens at 08:00 and will set off to the City Hall.


They will hand over a memorandum addressed to President Jacob Zuma and Cwele which argues that the gains of South Africa's struggle for freedom will be threatened by the bill.

"This bill fundamentally undermines the struggle for whistleblower protection and access to information. It is one of a number of proposed measures, which could have the combined effect of fundamentally undermining the right to access information and the freedom of expression enshrined in the Constitution."

In terms of the bill, even a local municipality can classify public information as secret citing "national interest". The penalties of revealing this classified information would include jail - up to 25 years - and officials do not need to provide reasons for classifying the information. The bill extends to being able to also classify commercial information.

The Right2Know campaign is a coalition of 370 organisations opposed to the bill, which is currently before Parliament.

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