Info bill unsafe for democracy - Sanef

2011-09-16 22:35

Johannesburg - The protection of state information bill remains unsafe for democracy, despite important improvements, the SA National Editors' Forum said on Friday.

"Its lack of any public interest defence, draconian sentencing regime, broadness of application, and excessive shielding from scrutiny of the intelligence services are of grave concern," Sanef said in a statement after its 2011 annual general meeting in Cape Town.

"Sanef will continue to oppose the enactment of the bill and will take legal action, if necessary, to ensure that it ultimately complies with constitutional principles of free speech and open democracy," it said.

The bill will be put to the vote in the National Assembly this month.

It was finalised on September 2 after a year of wrangling in the legislature, with the ANC voting down opposition amendments to include a public interest defence.

At the time, activists, the media and the African Christian Democratic Party (ACDP) said they were ready to take the matter to the Constitutional Court, because the final draft placed excessive limitations on the freedom of expression.

On Friday, Sanef said editors were also concerned about efforts by the portfolio committee on communications to rush an indaba on media diversity and transformation "styled as a prelude to the consideration of statutory press regulation in the form of a Media Appeals Tribunal".

"Sanef was not invited to the indaba, and notes that the limited range of stakeholders who were invited were given just days to prepare.

"'Consultation' of this kind is no consultation at all," Sanef said, adding that it would write to the Speaker of Parliament protesting against the "cavalier" handling of the crucial matter.

Elected at the AGM were Cape Argus editor Gasant Abarder, as deputy chairperson; Mail & Guardian editor Nic Dawes as media freedom subcommittee chair; and City Press editor Ferial Haffajee as diversity and ethics subcommittee chair.

Sanef also congratulated stalwart Raymond Louw on being named an International Press Institute press freedom hero.

The Sanef-Wrottesley Award was presented to Hopewell Radebe for his extraordinary commitment towards the achievement of the forum's goals.

Radebe is Sanef's Gauteng convenor and agriculture editor at Business Day.

The Nat Nakasa Award was not made, but a special mention was made of the work of South African photojournalist Anton Hammerl, who was killed while reporting on the war in Libya.

  • Colin Dovey - 2011-09-16 23:06

    it is called "Government by stealth" - and they are STEALING our rights as a democracy. Dov Fedler's cartoon in The Star today was very apt: A toilet scene, and then written on the toilet paper: "South African Constitution"

      KarooOstrich - 2011-09-16 23:12

      Maybee it should rather read "South African constipation" seeing that they want to block the flow of info to the public.

      Henk - 2011-09-19 12:51

      May God release His wrath apon these Scum!

  • R.Suppards - 2011-09-16 23:21

    This Bill should be defined by its real name" PROTECTION OF CORRUPTION". Nuff said.

  • Scorpion - 2011-09-16 23:29

    Slowly but surely, every day the blocks that make up a western style democracy are chipped away. Untill you have lived in another country you will never see the difference. Western democracy does not work in Africa. It never will.

  • Mandla - 2011-09-17 00:10

    The info bill is not a threat to democracy,People who manupulate and force the majority rule to sucub to their minority needs are the ones who are threat to democracy.White interlecuals are becoming a bigest threat to our democracy given the fact that they are grouping together to challenge the majority rule constitutionaly.

      guishi - 2011-09-17 02:35

      Clearly there's no such thing as a black interlecual then ... to use your word!

      Mandla - 2011-09-17 04:05

      There is but do not use it to bully other people like what white interletuals are doing.The problem is blacks are too forgiving were as whites keep gradges.

      Worker - 2011-09-17 06:45

      Mandla - open your mind and ears. It's about ANC ABSOLUTE power and has nothing to do with freedom. It WILL damage YOUR future, please listen before it's too late.

      Johnny - 2011-09-17 07:00

      man you are not only naive but stupid too

      DaveS - 2011-09-17 07:49

      Mandla - it is white intellectuals who have built the country over the decades and it will be the black "intellectuals" who will destroy it as in Zimbabwe and other sub-Saharan countries. You brought race into the discussion and that is the problem - we cannot move on in this country and in 100years apartheid will still be blamed even though the leaders of the day are messing it up! The new racists in this country have a black skin and Julius Malema is the biggest of all. Instead of pooling all the talent in this country - of all races - we fight against each other. I had hoped for a different outcome since 1994 but it seems that my friends that left SA are being proved right for having done so because SA is unfortunately heading the same way as the rest of the sub-Saharan countries - Zim, Angola, Mozambique, Kenya etc the list goes on.

      solly - 2011-09-17 09:54

      your insight is as good as your spelling is

      Mtibane - 2011-09-17 10:17

      Spoken like a true Zimbabwean Government official. Are you also going to be on the ANC's payroll when the bill is passed. The same bill that will allow your fellow countrymen to die of hunger because they oppose the government's corruption and the same bill that legalizes selective ethnic cleansing

      Ryan - 2011-09-17 18:51

      Mandla, why do you think your comment got so many more thumbs down than thumbs up ?

  • Stephan Janse van Vuuren - 2011-09-17 01:39

    cANCer need it to hide their incompetency.

  • guishi - 2011-09-17 02:34

    You call South Africa a democracy?

      Mandla - 2011-09-17 04:07

      If South Africa is not a democracy then there is no need to wary about the info bill.

      Dave50 - 2011-09-17 05:32

      Don't worry people like Mandla display their abilities like the sence of the next comment. Why did so many people die for freedom ? only to have it taken away when the government still tries to find ways to cover their corruption and hide things from the world, I travel a lot and am proud to be South African but it is becomming hard to accept the international perception of SA with stories like this and Juju's trust fund and so on and so on. People like Mandla will always be around and his type will always vote the same corruption back into power, the sad question is WHY can they not see that millions of Rands that go missing or spent on extravagant luxuries could have been better spent on uplifting the poor, just look what this kind of mentality has done to the population of Zim and how only a very small black minority benifits.

      Ryan - 2011-09-17 18:55

      @ Mandla ... good rebuttal. but seriously, this info bill is opposed by all groups in SA except the ANC. that should say something. it has also raised eyebrows overseas. that should say something. think about it.

  • PurpleDragon - 2011-09-17 06:25

    Funny how as every day passes the ANC becomes more and more like the Nats.

      Worker - 2011-09-17 06:49

      Right on the button - I hope Mandla and those who think like him take note and learn, but then, like so many of the African countries, the "majority" are fooled into believing it is for their own good, until it is too late.

  • Worker - 2011-09-17 06:42

    The ANC have clearly shown that we live in a DEMOCKERY. All they are interested in is power and the amassing of all the wealth they can for their friends and families. A repeat of most of the countries to the north and the consequences ---- keep watching the news, but not in these papers for much longer, as freedom of speech will probably be "patented" and ANC "re-designed".

  • Johnny - 2011-09-17 06:59

    institution of communism

  • Geo Farmer - 2011-09-17 07:18

    In four days, the National Assembly could pass a secrecy bill that would undermine South Africa's democracy and Constitution. But the four Chief Whips can stop it: if enough of us urgently join this call to kill this regressive bill, they could think twice about pushing it through. Send an urgent message now to say no to the secrecy law! the secrecy bill/?vl

  • Vince York - 2011-09-17 07:30

    Avaaz & R2Know - Only Days to Stop the Secrecy Bill

  • DaveS - 2011-09-17 07:44

    The frightening thing about this is that things are going more and more the way it went in Zimbabwe - stifling the media so that the citizens do not know what is really happening and the state taking control of more and more 'public interest' issues. And we all know what happened to Zimbabwe - from one of the economic powerhouses on the continent to the basket case it now is with an actual dictator in place with his cronies that keep him propped up - and no - don't fool yourself into believing it is a deoocracy - the elections have been rigged for years!

  • Mtibane - 2011-09-17 10:09

    Robert Mugabe did exactly the same in Zimbabwe. Furthermore he and his fat cats milked the country's resources dry and made his own people poorer. Poor people will do anything (keep silent) if you throw them a handful of maize or by intimidating and killing them off because they oppose your tyranny. After the enactment of the very same bill in Zimbabwe many atrocities and even genocide followed under the very same act - food for thought

  • J T - 2011-09-17 17:58 “Section 38(c) of the Constitution provides that any person can act as a member of a class in approaching a court when alleging that a right in the Bill of Rights has been infringed or threatened2. In giving effect to this section of the Constitution, the Supreme Court of Appeal (SCA) held in Permanent Secretary, Department of Welfare, Eastern Cape v Ngxuza 2001 (4) SA 1184 (SCA) that s 38(c) of the Constitution authorised the use of an American-style class action. It must be emphasised that the use and recognition of a class action in terms of the Constitution has application only in circumstances where a Constitutional right has been infringed or threatened. (Continued on next page...)

  • J T - 2011-09-17 18:01

    The SCA indicated that the requirements for a class action contained in Rule 23(a) of the US Federal Rules of Civil Procedure (the Federal Rules) were applicable in South Africa (certainly insofar as "Constitutional" based class actions are concerned). Rule 23(a) of the Federal Rules provides that one or more members of a class may sue as representative parties on behalf of all if: the class is so numerous that joinder of all members is impracticable; there are questions of law or fact common to the class; the claims or defences of the representative parties are typical of the claims or defences of the class, and the representative parties will fairly and adequately protect the interests of the class. These four requirements are commonly known as ‘numerosity’, ‘commonality’, ‘typicality’, and ‘adequacy of representation’. Apart from the Constitution, recent legislative reform affords standing to persons to institute actions on behalf of a class when enforcing rights or seeking certain remedies under that legislation.” Here below is the website pertaining the above given information: Respectfully.

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