ANC bows to pressure over info bill

2012-05-10 20:31
Cape Town - The ruling party bowed to pressure on the protection of state information bill on Thursday, proposing a raft of changes that critics of the bill have demanded over the past two years.

These included a compromise on a public interest defence clause as a way of protecting journalists and whistleblowers who risk prison to expose state wrongdoing.

ANC members of the National Council of Provinces committee processing the bill proposed that section 43, which criminalises revealing classified information, made an explicit exception for cases where "such disclosure reveals criminal activity".

They also moved to amend section 49 of the draft act, which has been widely criticised for criminalising the disclosure of any information relating to the work of the intelligence services.

The proposed change would make it a crime only in cases where the information had in any event been classified.

These two sections were among those singled out for criticism by Cosatu general secretary Zwelinzima Vavi in a submission to Parliament last month, when he threatened to challenge the bill in the Constitutional Court unless it were rewritten.

The climb-down came hours after State Security Minister Siyabonga Cwele told reporters he would welcome any initiatives that would help the bill to pass constitutional muster.

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