Opposition unites against info bill
Johannesburg - South Africans made history at the weekend with opposition parties uniting in Khayelitsha, near Cape Town, to protest against the protection of state information bill, the Inkatha Freedom party said on Saturday.
"The last time any similar mass mobilisation was witnessed in South Africa was before our liberation, 18 years ago," IFP leader Mangosuthu Buthelezi told the Khayelitsha rally.
"South African people are united in saying 'no' to the secrecy bill, in saying 'no' to corruption and 'no' to a Government which has failed the expectations of our liberation movement.
"Secrecy is not part of what we fought for. Lack of democracy is not part of what we fought for. Since our liberation, there has never been an issue like this in which what the people want and what Parliament is about to pass are two completely different things," Buthelezi said.
He said the ANC had prioritised its desire to create a system of secrecy so that the public would not know what was going on "so that corruption, inefficiency, indolence and lack of proper delivery of services can be covered up more easily".
Earlier in the day, Democratic Alliance MP Wilmot James told the gathering at the OR Tambo Hall that the public had to "stop the secrecy bill at all costs".
"This bill will cover up corruption, will keep our citizens uninformed and will destroy the very fabric of our democracy by constraining our media and limiting our freedom of speech."
Wilmot said there were terrible implications for oversight in government should the bill be passed into law.
"Consider for example what government officials could do with a housing list if there was no oversight. A government official could decide who gets housing as he pleases, without accounting to the people," he said.
"He could assign houses to his family, friends or business partners, and no one would be able to expose his corrupt actions. We can never accept that."
Wilmot said the government was focused on guarding secrets when it should be empowering the population and ending poverty.