Info bill: Cosatu will go to ConCourt

2011-11-24 15:46
Johannesburg - Cosatu will go to the Constitutional Court should attempts to amend the protection of state information bill fail, its secretary general Zwelinzima Vavi said on Thursday.

Vavi said the Congress of SA Trade Unions would call for an urgent meeting with the ANC leadership to discuss the bill.

The ANC had not responded to a letter raising Cosatu's concerns about the bill, he said.

"We will make an appeal to the President [Jacob Zuma] not to sign the bill. We hope we can find one another in that the necessary amendments are effected in the process of the bill going to the National Council of Provinces," he told reporters in Johannesburg.

"The point we are raising is that if all that fails we will be left with no option but to proceed to the Constitutional Court."

Constructive engagements on the bill resulted in an improved bill to what it used to be at the beginning, he said.

However, the scope of the revised bill remained excessively wide.

"It contains numerous provisions that undermine rights of access to information.

"Quite problematically, we note that its provisions state that it will trump the provisions of any other act of Parliament that contradicts it," he said.

Public interest defence

The bill also criminalised the possession of classified information by unauthorised people.

The ANC majority drove the contentious bill through the National Assembly on Tuesday, despite vehement protests in and outside Parliament.

The so-called "secrecy bill" was adopted with 229 to 107 votes, and two abstentions, by the 400-member chamber.

There were 34 ANC MPs absent from the National Assembly during the vote.

The ANC said it was convinced that the bill would play a constructive role in South Africa's constitutional democracy.

However, Vavi said there was a need to introduce a public interest defence.

"Cosatu is concerned that relevant provisions in the bill are capable of such broad interpretation that it would have the effect of imposing criminal responsibility on whistle-blowers who disclose information in the public interest," he said.

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