Secrecy bill 'fixed

2013-10-31 00:00

CAPE TOWN — The parliamentary ad hoc committee on the Protection of State Information Bill yesterday finalised its report on the so-called secrecy bill, but laughed off suggestions by the IFP.

Sparks flew when ANC members on the committee aired their disapproval of the IFP’s Dr Mario Ambrosini’s inputs.

Elleck Nchabaleng (ANC) repeatedly said “Ambrosini thinks he is God”. Chairperson of the committee Cecil Burgess (ANC) said Ambrosini, who attended the committee sessions despite suffering a lot of pain from terminal cancer, was “hard-headed”.

ANC MP Jerome Maake told Ambrosini it was only due to the goodwill of the committee that he could speak and added it was time to end this goodwill.

Burgess allowed the political intolerance in his committee despite the fact that precisely this refusal by ANC MPs to acknowledge oppositions members’ objections— specifically Ambrosini’s objections — had led to the committee’s previous report being referred back to them by President Jacob Zuma.

The DA, Cope and the ACDP’s inputs were eventually recorded yesterday, but only part of Ambrosini’s input was included. The ANC members used their majority vote to exclude the rest of Ambrosini’s objections because the committee thought it was factually wrong.

Ambrosini’s insistence that only he could decide what his opinion was, was laughed off by most of the committee members.

Thirty grammatical corrections were made to both the clauses that the president had pointed out, as well as to a slew of other clauses.

The DA, IFP and ACDP said all the changes went outside the brief by the government’s legal adviser that only the two clauses referred back by the president had to be amended.

The committee’s report will now be reviewed by the parliamentary programme committee.

If the ANC MPs stick to their pattern to date, the National Assembly will vote to accept the bill, after which Zuma will again have to consider signing the repressive secrecy bill into law.

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