Plan against info bill hatched

2011-11-30 16:25

Vavi addresses Sanef meeting

2011-11-30 14:22

Cosatu general secretary Zwelinzima Vavi discussed with editors the protection of state information bill and ways forward to oppose the bill being passed. WATCH

Johannesburg - A seven-point campaign of resistance against the protection of state information bill was hatched between editors, Cosatu, and the Right2Know Campaign on Wednesday.

Participation in the campaign against the bill was for "everyone who wants a transparent and democratic society", said Cosatu general secretary Zwelinzima Vavi.

The bill, passed in the National Assembly last Tuesday, still has to be approved by the National Council of Provinces.

Cosatu, the SA National Editors Forum (Sanef), and the Right2Know Campaign (R2K) met in Johannesburg earlier in the day to discuss the bill.

They told reporters the resistance campaign would tackle the legislation on seven fronts:

- Educating the public about the bill and the problems it posed for democracy;
- Public awareness;
- A march of those opposed to the bill to hand their grievances to President Jacob    Zuma;
- A convention;
- Activism;
- A possible petition against the bill, and
- Co-operation and sharing information and resources on legal recourse.

Mail & Guardian editor Nic Dawes said the bill was an affront to democracy and the public.

While the preamble of the bill indicated "noble motivation", it had been drafted in such a way as to limit future embarrassment, which had previously arisen in corruption scandals.

Dawes said: "[The] good intentions [in the preamble, were] seriously damaged by a different set of motivations from security agencies."

Dawes and Vavi said the absence of a public interest defence clause in the bill had been the focus of opposition.

‘Voted against their conscience’

It was easier to articulate and explain than other objections to it.

The essential problem with the legislation was that it could "sludge up the whole flow of information", which meant that the accountability of government could not be guaranteed, Dawes said.

Vavi said proponents of the bill had claimed that its development was in line with the values of the Freedom Charter of 1955.

Withholding information that was in the public interest, however, was anathema to the "spirit and letter" of the charter and the Constitution.

Citing these documents, he said: "The law shall guarantee to all their right to speak, to organise, to meet together, to publish... this includes freedom of expression, freedom of the media, and the freedom to impart information and ideas.

"[Therefore, the argument that] the info bill is derived from the Freedom Charter is just not true."

While certain state security information should rightly be classified, this needed to be properly defined to ensure that the objectives of transparent and accountable governance were not compromised, Vavi said.

Sanef chairperson Mondli Makhanya said there were many within the ANC who had voted "against their conscience" when they voted in favour of the bill.

"We need to press the pause button and talk about this and what it will mean for future generations."

There was a mistaken perception that the legislation was only about the media. Rather, the legislation threatened the general public, particularly the poor.

"What we want to say to the ANC and government, is that they cannot be on the wrong side of the Constitution, the Freedom Charter, and public opinion," Makhanya said.


Read more on:    cosatu  |  sanef  |  right2know  |  zwelinzima vavi  |  media  |  legislation  |  info bill

Read News24’s Comments Policy publishes all comments posted on articles provided that they adhere to our Comments Policy. Should you wish to report a comment for editorial review, please do so by clicking the 'Report Comment' button to the right of each comment.

Comment on this story
Add your comment
Comment 0 characters remaining

Inside News24


DA ad scores nearly half a millions hits on YouTube

The DA's "Ayisafani" (It's not the same) election TV advert - originally pulled off the air by the SABC - has garnered nearly half a million views on YouTube.


Latest elections multimedia

Why Jack Parow wants you to vote on 7 May
The ad the SABC doesn't want to air
Elections 2014 in one cartoon
This year's election posters
  • Saturday Newlands - 12:32 PM
    Road name: M3 Inbound
    DELAYS between Wynberg Hill and UCT due to 2 Oceans Marathon
  • Thursday Sir Lowry's Pass - 05:35 AM
    Road name: Old Sir Lowrys Pass Road
    TRAFFIC LIGHTS not working at Bezweni Road
More traffic reports...

Jobs in Cape Town [change area]

Property [change area]

Travel - Look, Book, Go!

Escape winter, head to Mauritius

Escape winter by spending 7 nights in Mauritius' tropical bliss from R13 215 per person sharing. Includes return flights, airport transfers and accommodation. Book now! - shop online today

Get many eggs in one basket!

Gaming bundles: 2 Super Hits games for R99, 3 Disney games for R99 and more + exclusive accessory bundles only available on While stocks last. Shop now!

25% off bestselling books!

The Real Meal Revolution by Tim Noakes, Jeffrey Archer’s Be Careful What You Wish for, Man’s Search for Meaning by Victor E. Frank and many more titles. Shop now!

Up to 25% off electronics

Buy top electronics and save up to 25%. Such as’s 1# selling product the gobii eReader, Patriot X Porter flash drive, Asus Nexus 7” 3G tablet, Samsung Galaxy SIII, Lenovo G580 Notebook and many more. Shop now!

DStv HD PVR Decoder now R949

The DStv HD PVR Decoder has further revolutionised the television experience with lifelike viewing, sharper images, more vibrant colours and precision picture quality. Now R949, save R550. Offer valid while stocks last. Shop now!

Up to 30% off appliances & homeware

Save up to 30% on appliances and homeware this Easter! Offer valid while stocks last. Shop now.

OLX Free Classifieds [change area]

Samsung Galaxy s4

Mobile, Cell Phones in South Africa, Western Cape, Cape Town. Date October 24

Best bargain in big bay

Real Estate, Houses - Apartments for Sale in South Africa, Western Cape, Cape Town. Date October 25

VW Golf 6, 1.6 Trendline (Excellent condition)

Vehicles, Cars in South Africa, Western Cape, Cape Town. Date October 25

BlackBerry Bold 9780

BlackBerry 6 Engage your world with BlackBerry 6 OS on the...

From R3049.00

I'm shopping for:


Self-indulgence may be strong today. You may want to enjoy yourself to the fullest and share it with those that make you more

There are new stories on the homepage. Click here to see them.


Create Profile

Creating your profile will enable you to submit photos and stories to get published on News24.

Please provide a username for your profile page:

This username must be unique, cannot be edited and will be used in the URL to your profile page across the entire network.


Location Settings

News24 allows you to edit the display of certain components based on a location. If you wish to personalise the page based on your preferences, please select a location for each component and click "Submit" in order for the changes to take affect.

Facebook Sign-In

Hi News addict,

Join the News24 Community to be involved in breaking the news.

Log in with Facebook to comment and personalise news, weather and listings.