ANC 'not divided' on info bill
Johannesburg - The ANC had never sought to impose the protection of state information bill on its members and society broadly, its parliamentary Chief Whip Mathole Motshekga said on Friday.
He said the ANC had initiated internal debates within the peace and stability national executive committee (NEC) sub-committee and the corresponding study group in Parliament.
"In both these forums ANC members were offered opportunities to debate the desirability and otherwise of the bill and the principles underlying it."
He said in both forums members engaged one another and sought to reach consensus. The same approach was adopted within the executive.
"When sufficient consensus was achieved, the Minister of State Security, Comrade Siyabonga Cwele, tabled the bill for consideration by the relevant portfolio committee in Parliament."
Perception that ANC divided
He said the ANC's detractors had sought to use the process leading to the passage of the bill by the National Assembly to entrench their perception that the ANC was divided.
"This perception was reinforced by the fact that some individuals who once served in the Cabinet or constitutional development structures of the ANC opposed certain aspects of the bill."
He said when the ANC was on the point of tabling the bill, the campaign against it intensified and claims had been made that the ANC in and outside Parliament was divided on the bill.
"The NEC advised caucus not to rush the bill in the light of the rising opposition and the perception that the ANC was divided."
He said the ANC postponed tabling the bill in the National Assembly and embarked on an internal democratic process to ensure that the ANC in and outside Parliament sang from the same hymn book - and that the public, especially the silent majority, was given the opportunity to express themselves freely on the bill.
"We also ensured that the public participation process is inclusive of all South Africans, regardless of political affiliation, who sought to make inputs," Motshekga said.