Plan against info bill hatched

2011-11-30 16:25

Johannesburg - A seven-point campaign of resistance against the protection of state information bill was hatched between editors, Cosatu, and the Right2Know Campaign on Wednesday.

Participation in the campaign against the bill was for "everyone who wants a transparent and democratic society", said Cosatu general secretary Zwelinzima Vavi.

The bill, passed in the National Assembly last Tuesday, still has to be approved by the National Council of Provinces.

Cosatu, the SA National Editors Forum (Sanef), and the Right2Know Campaign (R2K) met in Johannesburg earlier in the day to discuss the bill.

They told reporters the resistance campaign would tackle the legislation on seven fronts:

- Educating the public about the bill and the problems it posed for democracy;
- Public awareness;
- A march of those opposed to the bill to hand their grievances to President Jacob    Zuma;
- A convention;
- Activism;
- A possible petition against the bill, and
- Co-operation and sharing information and resources on legal recourse.

Mail & Guardian editor Nic Dawes said the bill was an affront to democracy and the public.

While the preamble of the bill indicated "noble motivation", it had been drafted in such a way as to limit future embarrassment, which had previously arisen in corruption scandals.

Dawes said: "[The] good intentions [in the preamble, were] seriously damaged by a different set of motivations from security agencies."

Dawes and Vavi said the absence of a public interest defence clause in the bill had been the focus of opposition.

‘Voted against their conscience’

It was easier to articulate and explain than other objections to it.

The essential problem with the legislation was that it could "sludge up the whole flow of information", which meant that the accountability of government could not be guaranteed, Dawes said.

Vavi said proponents of the bill had claimed that its development was in line with the values of the Freedom Charter of 1955.

Withholding information that was in the public interest, however, was anathema to the "spirit and letter" of the charter and the Constitution.

Citing these documents, he said: "The law shall guarantee to all their right to speak, to organise, to meet together, to publish... this includes freedom of expression, freedom of the media, and the freedom to impart information and ideas.

"[Therefore, the argument that] the info bill is derived from the Freedom Charter is just not true."

While certain state security information should rightly be classified, this needed to be properly defined to ensure that the objectives of transparent and accountable governance were not compromised, Vavi said.

Sanef chairperson Mondli Makhanya said there were many within the ANC who had voted "against their conscience" when they voted in favour of the bill.

"We need to press the pause button and talk about this and what it will mean for future generations."

There was a mistaken perception that the legislation was only about the media. Rather, the legislation threatened the general public, particularly the poor.

"What we want to say to the ANC and government, is that they cannot be on the wrong side of the Constitution, the Freedom Charter, and public opinion," Makhanya said.

  • Kala - 2011-11-30 16:34

    Could this mean that COSATU might actually strike for something everybody believes in? That would be nice!!!

      Penny-wise - 2011-11-30 16:59

      I would join that strike. This secrecy bill is only there to hide tenderpreneur corruption from the people of SA. WE MUST ALL OPPOSE THIS COMMUNISTIC CONTROL OF THE ANC !!! This is NOT the democracy that Nelson Mandela and our forefathers fought for !!!

      Impi - 2011-11-30 17:04

      @Kala. We should all strike. Give us a date and us as a unified South Africa will stop this Bill in its tracks. This is nothing else but to cover the tracks of the Shaik Mafia and their Puppet President!

      Poloyatonki - 2011-11-30 17:40

      COSATU is leading you people to the slaughter house. You dont need to be at my level to see that.

      Impi - 2011-11-30 17:46

      @Poloyatonki. LOL LOL. I missed you. Has your important high level government job been keeping you busy? Don't worry about us, just keep counting all the money you are making on the back of us.

      sefeddt - 2011-11-30 18:34

      I think COSATU are all bark no bite. There are many ANC members who were previously COSATU members and they all voted for the bill. A case of wearing whatever hat that suits them.

      velastardust - 2011-11-30 21:19

      A useful first?

  • Larry - 2011-11-30 16:37

    I hope that they let us in on the plan and also where we can fit in to make it work. That the bill is discredited and scrapped is vital to the future of South Africa.

      Kala - 2011-11-30 16:48

      And where we can get proper toyi-toyi lessons. For the first time I have had the urge to do this "we demand" dance.

      Penny-wise - 2011-11-30 17:01

      Kala the next time the ANCYL marches to PTA, I'm going to join in. Hell it's a free lucky packet deal. I'll get a yellow T-shirt, a box of Chicken Licken, and master the steps of the toyi-toyi all in one day. VIVA DEMOCRACY, VIVA !!!

  • Bigwolf - 2011-11-30 16:51

    About time we all stood together for a greater good, Go South Africans make us proud.

      Poloyatonki - 2011-11-30 17:43

      Yeah right, but we are still uneven.

  • Ben - 2011-11-30 16:57


  • Hunter - 2011-11-30 17:15

    Looks like they agree with the DA on two things now: the toll roads and the secrecy bill. Wonder how much they will agree on by election time?

      StarStruck - 2011-11-30 17:25

      I like where your head is at. You deserve a Bell's.

  • jannie.beirowski - 2011-11-30 17:16

    The best strike will be a silent strike, one where they cannot hear the pen marking the opposition block in the next election. We will not tell them before, but just classify the votes as 'secret'. They will then only feel the result of this secret and how it affects their future, the same way the public will feel the effect of the secrecy bill without knowing beforehand.

  • Ian - 2011-11-30 17:21

    the association of national corrupters are probally having a good laugh over there tax payers sponsered johnny blues at all the fuss they have created, as usual

  • Gilad - 2011-11-30 17:23

    start an official group on facebook. lets mobilise

      Poloyatonki - 2011-11-30 17:46

      no that wont work, the poor dont have facebook...

      Oceanh - 2011-11-30 19:22

      I agree, lets make ourselves heard, Poloyatonki, lets do as much as we can.

  • Victor - 2011-11-30 17:36

    Wow. Cosato!! Although I hardly agree with anything u say, your stance on the tollroads and info bill got my approval. I don't think the ANC realises how much support there will be for these causes. They will go down like Libia and Egypt

  • Thozi - 2011-11-30 17:38

    So the fat lady has not yet sung? Thanks Mr Vavi, at least some sense still prevails amongst some 'Tripatrate' members. I know it takes a lot of guts to stand up like that for what is correct.

  • felican - 2011-11-30 17:46

    So the egg was laid the plan is hatched - now what changeling will be revealed.

  • Lynn - 2011-11-30 18:04

    Sign me up. This is something I will join in 100%

  • Joseph - 2011-11-30 18:51

    Those opposed to info bill have one thing in their minds to expose corruption through tenders on the part of governmant and civil servants that is good,haw ever they do not agree to the remend of eradic corruption in governmant because they are also benefiting from tender corruption practises thats strange and stupid at the some time.There is no tender process in the world that was free and fare even in the so called private sector tenders.Media,Cosatu and its affiliate unions,ANC,DA,Private sector,ANCYL,Cope,IFP,UDM,NFP,AZAPO and many more are all benefiting from governmant tenders direct and indirect and the anus is who is controlling the process and haw is it implimanted is the cause for compaign against the info bill. All these stupid people need to find a solution to the tender problem.The whole scenario will not benefit the poor but the stupid elite rich and the previlaged.My one quick solution is the governmant needs to do away with tenders employe poor people something which i think those opposed to info bill will not agree to as they are also benefiting from governmant tenders and hide behind the info bill to force the governmant to give them and their cronnies more access to tenders.Our majority people are not stupid and you will not fool them with the noise you are both making.Double standards will not seccede in our society but if you provide a solution to creating work for our people wil make them recognise you through your good work.Good luck educated idiots.

  • Oceanh - 2011-11-30 19:20

    It seems that South African politics has grown up, Cosatu not allowing themselves to be the ANC's lapdog. I am very proud of Zwelinzima Vavi's stance. I implore all South Africans to join in on this cause, forget about race, the past, that ANC divides us with, lets march as one, or we will never achieve anything. Get involved, be heard, if not for yourselves, then do it for your children's freedom

  • cyanideandhappiness - 2011-11-30 20:52

    Zwelinzima Vavi for president!!! No to tolls, no Protection of Information, no to corruption...

  • velastardust - 2011-11-30 21:20

    Okay. But what is the plan?

  • Nikki Bodenstein - 2011-12-02 19:30

    Let's hope they've thought out this 'plan' and that it works! Stuff the ANC!

  • Archie - 2011-12-03 11:10

    Nelson Mandela.The most respected icon in South Africa the visionary who helped craft the constitution.Please stand up and tell us is this the same ANC that you used to lead? My opinion is that the DA is now our champion of that constitution The Cape is properly managed and can pay all its bills Pls show me one ANC led province that is up to modern standards ANC guided by all those outdated Commies is now rotten

  • peter.vanachter - 2011-12-03 11:20

    This time i am all for the COSATU intervention and support this 100%.

  • Archie - 2011-12-03 11:31

    After the next sitting at mangaung it could be the new biparteit ANC alliance

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