News24

Sanef lone media voice at info bill hearings

2012-03-14 22:37

Cape Town - Eighteen critics will be invited to address hearings on the protection of state information bill later this month, but only one media body will be heard, ANC MPs ruled on Tuesday.

The SA National Editors' Forum (Sanef) is the only body that will be allowed to speak on behalf of the fourth estate, said Raseriti Tau, the chairperson of the ad hoc committee processing the bill in the National Council of Provinces.

Tau said he did not want the process, likely to be the last hearings on the contentious "secrecy" bill, to be dominated by the media.

"I would not want us to be preoccupied with the media and lose sight of what this bill is about," he told the committee.

"Their submission is territorial, sectoral. They are protecting their territory."

It was on this basis that Tau rejected opposition proposals to invite media academic Jane Duncan from Rhodes University, who authored one of the 259 written submissions to the committee on the bill.

Duncan's submission was made on behalf of Highway Africa, which is part of the School of Journalism and Media Studies at Rhodes.

In her often blistering critique, she proposed 35 changes to the bill. These included narrowing the definition of national security as a basis for classifying information, limiting the maximum period for classification to 10 years, and obliging classifying officers to give reasons for filing information as secret.

Duncan argued that South Africa was suffering from a culture of excessive classification and secrecy surrounding the intelligence services.

"There is a constitutionally indefensible blackout on the intelligence services. This blackout is dangerous as it creates space for abuse of this most sensitive area of government."

For many opponents of the bill, this concern has been exacerbated by clause 49 of the bill, which imposes jail sentences of up to 15 years for people who disclose information about the work of the intelligence services.

The point is also likely to be made by the Congress of SA Trade Unions (Cosatu), which warned in its submission that the draft law would contribute to the creation of a "security state".

Cosatu general secretary Zwelinzima Vavi told Sapa he would personally argue the labour movement's case in the public hearings.

"I think I will have to go there and do that," he said.

The committee has scheduled the hearings to run over three-and-a-half days, from March 27 to 30.

Tau said he would limit presentations to an hour, half of which would be taken up by questions.

Those who would be invited include human rights lawyer George Bizos, the Southern African Catholic Bishops' Conference, the Helen Suzman Foundation, the Nelson Mandela Foundation, the public protector, the Open Democracy Advice Centre, Right 2 Know Campaign, the SA Human Rights Commission and the SA Jewish Board of Deputies.

All are expected to demand that the bill be redrafted, and many to argue that it is patently unconstitutional.

The raft of submissions include only one in support of the bill and that was submitted anonymously.

The bill was driven through the National Assembly by the ANC majority late last year amid warnings it would erode freedom of expression and threats of a legal challenge, should it be adopted in its current form.

Comments
  • Tony - 2012-03-14 22:42

    The neo liberal elitist bourgeois colonialist counter revolutionary ANC, will stop at nothing to pass this bill into law. And can someone from the ANCYL explain what the neo liberal b.s. means, seeing as they use these terms all the time.....

      Lacrimose - 2012-03-14 23:01

      "territorial, sectoral. They are protecting their territory"

      Dirk - 2012-03-15 04:40

      Sanef? I suppose N 24 was not part of this. They have proven on this very forum that they are very dedicated and committed censors them selves. How on earth could they object to this bill with their record?

  • Vuyolwethu Sanele Gqwaru - 2012-03-14 23:17

    Even if more than one media body was invited to the hearing that wouldn't have changed anything at all because they have already decided, just like when they scrapped the Scorpions, no amount of criticism stopped them. We are in a dictatorship, we just don't know it yet

      arne.verhoef - 2012-03-14 23:43

      Bravo! Spot on

      Art - 2012-03-15 06:57

      Unfortunately, South Africa is run from LOOT-FREELY HOUSE, and NOT Pretoria.... Puppets are in office in Pretoria, just look at the president!

      uwe.klopfer - 2012-03-15 07:01

      @Vuyo : I couldn't agree more !

  • Scouter - 2012-03-14 23:39

    Goodbye free speech and thank you Zimbabwe for showing us the way.

  • Mark - 2012-03-15 00:13

    Setting the stage for a kleptocratic state, or so they think. This should be a good fight and ANC subversion of truth is being seen for what it is.

  • Chaapo - 2012-03-15 02:14

    This is African style "Democracy"! Welcome to reality SA; if you thought it would be different. Someone has written an article on how South Africans would say they will never go the Zimbabwe way but even this latest move is indicative of the march towards a media environment akin to Zim's under the control of its ZANU PF appointed Media and Information Commission (MIC). BE VERY AFRAID.

  • wesleywt - 2012-03-15 04:20

    The ANC needs the firing squad. They are traitors of the Struggle.

      Ian - 2012-03-15 05:24

      why waste valuable ammo, chuck the bastards down a mine shaft

      Xavier7034 - 2012-03-15 08:51

      Tongue in cheek: "The ANC are the new STRUGGLE heroes....EVERYBODY is STRUGGLING to pay their bills, whilst they live a life of luxury using OUR Tax Money"

  • Ian - 2012-03-15 05:23

    yip, freedom of speech only exists when it suits them, kind of like the catholics bitching about an ad, both freaking losers

  • braamc - 2012-03-15 05:53

    Tau said he did not want the process, likely to be the last hearings on the contentious "secrecy" bill, to be dominated by the media - what a lot of crap!

  • Piet - 2012-03-15 06:56

    Communists.....C

      Herman - 2012-03-15 07:44

      yip, rich commies

  • Trevor - 2012-03-15 07:45

    LMAO...the ANC believes it is the FINAL say in what happens in SA...a very few Elite believe they can run SA the way they want and to HELL with the people...ok, try it....the likes of COSATU will sink you and they proving this now with the ETOLL as it gains strength and "warnings" by Pravin Gordon won't change anything....once this starts it will slowly begin to gain support from sectors that even the ANC never thought possible....so ANC, go ahead, we the citizens of SA will bring this country to a standstill, very easily and you can pull the race card but money ALWAYS overrides any form of race hate they you so love to manipulate.

  • chiepner - 2012-03-15 07:52

    Freedom was not free.....it was fought for and alot of people died for it. Seems that some people tend to forget that.

  • Phumi - 2012-03-15 08:10

    SANEF represent the whole media of SA and cannot be regarded as a lone voice! We cannot keep on consulting forever at some stage we need to make a decision to take us forward! This has been amended enough now and we should just rubber stamp it as is instead of trying to please everybody. Those who are not happy can form their own political party and win at the polls by a two thirds majority then change it! Finish and klaar!

      pws69 - 2012-03-15 08:44

      Beware what you wish for, you might just get it. Old Chinese proverb. Look at Zim which went the same route we are going. The MAJORITY party - MDC, elected by the people democratically, is NOT the ruling party, simply because Mugarbage and his elite controlled the media, the police, and the army.

  • pws69 - 2012-03-15 08:37

    I have asked this question before, and I will ask it again: "in the last 18 years, what exposure of information has as put our national security at risk?" Name just ONE instance.

  • ludlowdj - 2012-03-15 11:39

    THe ANC has already decided to outcome of these "show hearings" the only comfort one can take from this is that true patriots will of course ensure that any dirty laundry gets aired in the international press going forward. If the ANC wants to make criminals out of ordinary people so be it, its a life of crime I'll live.

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