Anti-info bill campaign calls for greater action

2011-05-26 11:03

Rights campaigners said today that they would ratchet up a campaign to prevent the ruling party from ramming the current version of the Protection of Information Bill through Parliament.

The Right2Know campaign said a meeting on Tuesday where ANC MPs used their majority to approve contentious clauses of the bill by vote, showed that the ruling party was reneging on concessions made in recent months and determined to drive a “draconian bill” through Parliament.

“The ANC position on the Secrecy Bill has hardened. As a result, its MPs have reneged on a number of concessions made in recent months to reduce the bill’s powers,” the group said in a statement.

“The Right2Know campaign is calling for a new period of action to stop the secrecy bill. We call on all those who are seriously concerned by this turn of events to make their collective voices heard now.”

It said the ANC must abandon efforts to pass the bill in its current form and go back to the drawing board to produce a piece of legislation that is in line with the Constitution.

Opposition MPs this week told the chairman of the ad hoc committee drafting the bill, Cecil Burgess, that the bill flouted the constitutional requirement for transparency.

This came after ruling party MPs rejected calls for the draft law to be made to apply only to security and intelligence agencies.

As it stands the bill gives any organ of state – a category that by definition includes not only government departments but also the public broadcaster, libraries and even zoos – the power to classify information.

It also prescribes a minimum prison sentence of 15 years for anybody who makes top-secret information public. The provision is widely seen an attempt to curb investigative reporting and criticism of the government.

Right2Know described the law as a “regressive piece of legislation that threatens to take our country back to the dark days of secrecy”.

Opposition MPs yesterday held an informal meeting with their ANC colleagues in a bid to reach consensus on the bill but said no progress was made.

This came after Burgess told MPs a day earlier that he was not prepared to allow debate on the bill to continue indefinitely and ordered that clause-by-clause voting begins.

“We’ve heard all the arguments many times. We will be here for another year if we have to hear them all again. There is no way that you will get 100% consensus,” he said.

The deadline for the committee to complete its work is June 24.

Join the conversation! encourages commentary submitted via MyNews24. Contributions of 200 words or more will be considered for publication.

We reserve editorial discretion to decide what will be published.
Read our comments policy for guidelines on contributions. 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
Comments have been closed for this article.

Inside News24

Traffic Alerts
There are new stories on the homepage. Click here to see them.


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 network.


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.