Opposition cries foul over info bill move

2011-09-27 21:13

Cape Town - The ANC has set up a ruling party-only mechanism to consider further submissions on the protection of information bill.

The move was swiftly condemned by the opposition as an abuse of parliamentary process.

The office of ANC Chief Whip Mathole Motshekga said on Tuesday the party would establish a special committee to co-ordinate public engagement - including countrywide hearings - on the contentious bill.

It is also setting up an ANC study group on the bill, which will consider written and oral submissions from interested parties in Parliament.

Spokesperson Moloto Mothapo said the study group would comprise the ANC MPs who served on the now defunct multi-party ad hoc committee that drafted the bill.

It is inviting submissions to infobill@parliament.gov.za or ANC Information Bill Office, Parliament of the Republic of South Africa, PO Box 15, Cape Town, 8001.

Totally unacceptable

The Democratic Alliance and African Christian Democratic Party cried foul over the exclusion of the opposition from what pertains to be a parliamentary process.

Right2Know campaign co-ordinator Murray Hunter also called for other parties to be involved.

"Public consultation is not something one party should own. What we don't want is public consultations stage managed by the ANC to spin this bill to the public," he said.

ACDP MP Steve Swart, who was a member of the ad hoc committee, said: "I find the ANC's approach unprecedented, and totally unacceptable. The bill is before Parliament which includes many, many political parties, not just the ANC... and the process seems fatally flawed from the beginning."

Dene Smuts and David Maynier from the DA said if the ANC sincerely wanted to invite submissions on the bill it would do so in a reconstituted multi-party ad hoc committee.

They said instead, the ruling party appeared to want to manipulate public opinion.

"Consultative caravans like these are the time-honoured ANC method of manipulating public opinion and then presenting the pre-determined result as the voice of the people," they said.

"The question is only which side of the divided ANC will predetermine the result."

Formal objection

The bill was due to be debated in the National Assembly last Tuesday and widely expected to be passed thanks to the ANC's overwhelming majority. But it was taken off the programme on the eve of the vote.

The move came amid a reported rift in the ANC's national executive committee over the bill and unhappiness on key provisions on the part of the Congress of SA Trade Unions, a formal alliance partner.

Said Smuts and Maynier: "Submissions taken by a secretariat serving only the ANC study group will likewise emerge manipulated and massaged to suit whichever faction is in the ascendancy."

The DA planned to lodge a formal objection to Parliament's whippery.

It said if the ruling party "persists in this abuse of taxpayers' money", it would urge civil society to use the addresses provided for submissions on the bill, to protest against the process.

Mothapo gave assurances the legislature would not be made to pay for any part of the process, even if new submissions were heard in Parliament.

"We will devise means, but Parliament is not paying for it."

He said ANC MPs would use their constituency allocation to pay for expenses incurred to consult communities on the legislation.

Highly unusual

Judith February from the Institute for Democracy in Africa (Idasa) said the process was highly unusual, and warned that the parliamentary process could not be partisan.

"Of course the ANC is within its rights to solicit as many viewpoints as possible, but when it comes to a parliamentary process it must include other parties."

February said the courts had been very clear on this principle and a deviation could be contested.

"If they don't do this properly, if they undertake a parliamentary process without incorporating views of all citizens, it is something which civil society groups or opposition can challenge legally."

The bill seeks to regulate the classification of state information and would repeal legislation from 1982, but critics say it harks back to apartheid-era secrecy.

Academics, activists and journalists argue that it fails to balance the need to protect national security with the constitutional imperative of transparency.

Various groups have vowed to challenge the bill in court if passed in its current form.

- SAPA

Read more on:    cosatu  |  idasa  |  da  |  anc  |  acdp  |  right2know  |  david maynier  |  mathole motshekga  |  murray hunter  |  judith february  |  dene smuts  |  info bill  |  media
NEXT ON NEWS24X

Read News24’s Comments Policy

24.com publishes all comments posted on articles provided that they adhere to our Comments Policy. Should you wish to report a comment for editorial review, please do so by clicking the 'Report Comment' button to the right of each comment.

Comment on this story
50 comments
Add your comment
Comment 0 characters remaining
 

Inside News24

 
 

Shilowa supports Vote No campaign

Former Gauteng premier Mbhazima Shilowa has come out in support of the Vote No! Campaign launched recently by former intelligence minister Ronnie Kasrils and former deputy health minister Nozizwe Madlala-Routledge, says a report.

 
 

Latest elections multimedia

Why Jack Parow wants you to vote on 7 May
The ad the SABC doesn't want to air
Elections 2014 in one cartoon
This year's election posters
 
Traffic
Lottery
 
  • Thursday Sir Lowry's Pass - 05:35 AM
    Road name: Old Sir Lowrys Pass Road
    TRAFFIC LIGHTS not working at Bezweni Road
  • Thursday Cape Town - 05:35 AM
    Road name: Buitengracht Street
    TRAFFIC LIGHTS not working at Waterkant Street
 
More traffic reports...
 

Jobs in Cape Town [change area]

Property [change area]

Travel - Look, Book, Go!

Escape winter, head to Mauritius

Escape winter by spending 7 nights in Mauritius' tropical bliss from R13 215 per person sharing. Includes return flights, airport transfers and accommodation. Book now!

Kalahari.com - shop online today

Get many eggs in one basket!

Gaming bundles: 2 Super Hits games for R99, 3 Disney games for R99 and more + exclusive accessory bundles only available on kalahari.com. While stocks last. Shop now!

25% off bestselling books!

The Real Meal Revolution by Tim Noakes, Jeffrey Archer’s Be Careful What You Wish for, Man’s Search for Meaning by Victor E. Frank and many more titles. Shop now!

Up to 25% off electronics

Buy top electronics and save up to 25%. Such as kalahari.com’s 1# selling product the gobii eReader, Patriot X Porter flash drive, Asus Nexus 7” 3G tablet, Samsung Galaxy SIII, Lenovo G580 Notebook and many more. Shop now!

DStv HD PVR Decoder now R949

The DStv HD PVR Decoder has further revolutionised the television experience with lifelike viewing, sharper images, more vibrant colours and precision picture quality. Now R949, save R550. Offer valid while stocks last. Shop now!

Up to 30% off appliances & homeware

Save up to 30% on appliances and homeware this Easter! Offer valid while stocks last. Shop now.

OLX Free Classifieds [change area]

Samsung Galaxy s4

Mobile, Cell Phones in South Africa, Western Cape, Cape Town. Date October 24

Best bargain in big bay

Real Estate, Houses - Apartments for Sale in South Africa, Western Cape, Cape Town. Date October 25

VW Golf 6, 1.6 Trendline (Excellent condition)

Vehicles, Cars in South Africa, Western Cape, Cape Town. Date October 25

Nokia Lumia 800

The stunningly social Nokia Lumia 800 features head-turning design, ...

From R2395.00

I'm shopping for:

Horoscopes
Aquarius
Aquarius

You may be good at organising events but they do take their toll on your energy levels. You may need some time out today just to...read more

There are new stories on the homepage. Click here to see them.
 
English
Afrikaans
isiZulu

Hello 

Create Profile

Creating your profile will enable you to submit photos and stories to get published on News24.


Please provide a username for your profile page:

This username must be unique, cannot be edited and will be used in the URL to your profile page across the entire 24.com network.

Settings

Location Settings

News24 allows you to edit the display of certain components based on a location. If you wish to personalise the page based on your preferences, please select a location for each component and click "Submit" in order for the changes to take affect.








Facebook Sign-In

Hi News addict,

Join the News24 Community to be involved in breaking the news.

Log in with Facebook to comment and personalise news, weather and listings.