News24

Officials deadlocked on info bill changes

2012-06-13 22:34

Cape Town - All further meetings of the committee redrafting the protection of state information bill have been cancelled after ANC MPs and the department of state security deadlocked on proposed changes.

A parliamentary official confirmed on Wednesday that meetings scheduled for the next week were scrapped to give political parties time to deliberate on the way forward.

The chairperson of the ad hoc committee, Raseriti Tau, will now seek an extension of the lawmakers' 22 June deadline to report back to the National Council of Provinces.

The move comes after government on Tuesday objected to amendments proposed by the ANC in May, in response to sustained criticism of the bill and threats to take it on constitutional review.

The department of state security rejected proposals by the ruling party to give greater protection to whistle-blowers, to remove all minimum prison sentences from the bill and to narrow the definition of national security.

Acting director general of state security, Dennis Dlomo, said the term needs to be broadly defined to allow the government to use the legislation to respond to emerging threats.

He also dismissed a proposal by opposition parties to delete a provision that the new classification law would trump the Promotion of Access to Information Act if the two came into conflict.

Critics have repeatedly warned that the provision, contained in section 1(4), is patently unconstitutional.

Rights groups cautiously welcomed the ANC's proposed amendments last month, but urged the ruling party to go further and include a public interest defence for those charged with revealing state secrets.

The ANC's MPs made a gesture in this direction by proposing that people who reveal classified information to expose criminal wrongdoing be exempt from prosecution.

However, the department also rejected this amendment, along with the ANC's stated readiness to remove clauses that would, according to legal experts, place an unacceptably heavy onus on those charged under the legislation.

The director of the Open Democracy Advice Centre, Alison Tilley, said the department's attempt to prescribe to lawmakers was problematic.

"There's clearly an attempt from the executive branch of government to tell Parliament how it should and should not legislate, which demonstrates a clear misunderstanding of the doctrine of separation of powers."

The bill was passed by the National Assembly late last year amid threats of legal challenge unless it were significantly rewritten.

The ANC then embarked on a process of public consultation in provinces and in March held renewed public hearings, where presenters from veteran rights lawyer George Bizos to Cosatu general secretary Zwelinzima Vavi warned it would be struck down by the Constitutional Court.

Comments
  • Sagin - 2012-06-13 22:50

    This is one of the biggest of the many threats facing south africa today. Even The Youth league extremists should be opposed to this one. There is a concerted effort from the anc to make south africa a dictatorial state. it is time for all the colours of our rainbow to realise , that in order to save our country from ruin, the anc must go!

      Travis - 2012-06-14 11:51

      I can't wait for someone else to govern this country, sick of the crap the ANC dream up to suit themselves. This bill is clearly to cover up their corruption and incompetance. I don't see any other purpose for this bill, and again the tax payer probably fits the legal fees bill for this whole unethical fiasco. ANC need to go!!

  • venus.sharma.5205 - 2012-06-13 23:01

    I'm not fooled by ANC,they planned this long time ago.this is an ANC government for God sake.

      msendi - 2012-06-14 07:01

      By saying ANC government this, ANC Government that, you are only promoting the ANC. There is nothing officially called ANC government. We only have SOUTH AFRICAN GOVERNMENT. With your vote you can strengthen the opposition to tackle whoever is in power. LOVE YOU COUNTRY…

  • Gerald Jordaan - 2012-06-14 01:43

    What a bunch of idiotic w*nkers!! Someone tell them who is in control!!

  • Bless Boswell - 2012-06-14 02:35

    This is the bill where cabinet members were asked to vote, and compelled to vote in favour of the bill being passed - lets not be fooled now. There is a big fat snake in the grass ... We are not fooled by its camouflage

  • peter.mokoena.31 - 2012-06-14 06:37

    Clearly some ministers seems less informed than the ordinary man on the street, expsosing their ineffeciencies to litigations. We still got a good constitution that we can rely on to tell the executive how to run the country. Why waste time? Because we will win these one AGAIN in court.

  • Wayne - 2012-06-14 07:07

    Just drop it already!

  • pws69 - 2012-06-14 07:55

    I ask yet again, name ONE instance in the last ten years when our state security was compromised. This is the motivation for these draconian laws. The only people this law will protect is the corrupt pigs at the trough.

      Jacqui - 2012-06-14 10:52

      Pws69. My pig is pissed off at you. He is very indignant and wants to know how you can compare him to trough cleaners?.

  • Phelamanga - 2012-06-14 08:02

    We must continue to pressurise the ANC to come up with bills that are in favour of the ordinary person in the street, and not for those who, through their new-found wealth and positions want to protect themselves from the ordinary person. The Department of State Security should only be allowed to operate as an extension of the Department of International Relations and the military. Once they are allowed to operate among ordinary people, we will land up with the STASI or KGB. We must not allow this.We must protect our freedoms by all means.

  • Winifred - 2012-06-14 09:42

    They want to change the Info Bill rewrite the constitution what for, to SAVE their own necks and provided more for their pockets. GREED GREED. Their greed will eventually turn on them and they will eat each other because of it. This country, is becoming more and more ungovernable every passing day. People around the world are starting to mutter and fear for the safety of our people. Seems to me, that the ANC are trying to rid this country of whites, indians, coloureds, asians so on even a child can see through their tactics.

  • Jacqui - 2012-06-14 10:47

    This is what you get when you bite off more than you can chew. Choke on your information bill.

  • Chris - 2012-06-15 08:05

    Sorry who makes the laws! The department is there to implement the laws! Methinks there are some people in this department who need to be shuffled out!

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