Protector asked to probe Cwele

2011-12-13 22:44

Pretoria - Statements that no country has a public interest defence, and that those proposing one are foreign agents, are to be investigated by Public Protector Thuli Madonsela.

Madonsela said at a press conference in Pretoria on Tuesday that she had been asked by the SA National Editors' Forum (Sanef) to investigate the statements.

State Security Minister Siyabonga Cwele said on November 16, when the controversial protection of state information bill was being debated in Parliament, that no other country in the world allowed those accused of divulging state secrets to argue in court that they had done so in the public interest.

He told Parliament: "We have looked at international best practice and there is no country which practises such reckless practice."

Madonsela said Sanef had asked her to investigate the accuracy of this statement. It had also asked her to investigate whether a statement made by Cwele, that those who opposed the bill were proxies funded by foreign spies, was protected by parliamentary privilege and had in fact been said in Parliament.

In his speech prepared for delivery to the National Assembly and distributed to the media prior to November 16, Cwele said: "The ANC government may never allow such undermining of our national security to continue. We have, through sections 36 to 38 of the bill, made espionage a serious offence that will be a deterrent to both foreign spies and their collaborators.


"However, you won’t find foreign spies openly marching in the streets of Cape Town complaining that we are removing their easy access to our sensitive information, but they will fund their local proxies to defend their illegality."

If the bill becomes law, the media will not be able to claim it acted in the public interest if it violates, or is party to the violation of a law, or publishes classified information to substantiate a report on, for example, government malpractice or corruption.

The bill was passed by the National Assembly with 229 votes in favour, 107 against and two abstentions. It still has to move through the National Council of Provinces (NCOP) before it can be signed into law by President Jacob Zuma.

If passed in its current form, it is likely to be challenged in the Constitutional Court.

Speaking at the same press conference, Sanef chairperson Mondli Makhanya said Sanef would be making a "detailed submission" to the NCOP's ad hoc committee that would review the bill. He said Sanef had "started seeking counsel" for a constitutional challenge, should the bill ultimately become law.

He rejected the notion that the NCOP would merely "rubber stamp" the bill.

"As Sanef we are going to treat this process as a genuine process."

Sanef leaders and Madonsela held a two-hour meeting prior to the press conference to discuss the bill.

  • maseratifittipaldi - 2011-12-13 23:27

    Slowly the hypnosis wears off. Too slowly.

  • Ronald - 2011-12-13 23:55

    As our State Security Minister Siyabonga Cwele has also fallen into the trap of opening his without doing his research. Quite a few countries have a so called "whistle blower" section in their laws that provide protection, including USA, Britain, Canada and most European countries. That is why corruption and maladministration are difficult to hide in those countries. He must have been referring to their friends in Zimbabwe, China, North Korea, Myanmar and others that have despicable human rights records.

  • Joseph - 2011-12-14 00:20

    Sanef get life please,you suck.

      Sterling - 2011-12-14 05:29

      You are sick.

      Michael - 2011-12-14 05:47

      funny you should say that, it is you that they are concerned about, and are fighting for in the end.

  • paul.naude - 2011-12-14 05:50

    Now that people are not happy to just accept what the government throws at them they (gov.) find lots of "reasons" to support the bill. Yet we were never informed of these reasons... or did some crafty agents withhold the information from public. Surely if it was said out loud and we were made aware of all the "good" arguments for the information bill many South Africans would have supported it. But unfortunately the fools up top can only come up with "proper" reasons now that they see people are not falling for the half-baked lies they have been using. I just find it sad that the people who really should know about all this nonsense are kept in the dark and will be kept in the dark as long as possible through a bad education system. Dumb down the masses.... they will then not be educated enough to question the silly things you do

  • Marius Koen - 2011-12-14 06:45

    Yes. Anal probe please.

  • Larry - 2011-12-14 07:02

    The ANC Masses may hang on the word of the ANC, but the average person with just a little sense, now knows that anything they say is highly suspect.

      Peter - 2011-12-14 07:51

      These people and I use that word literally, do not have many brains, you cannot put something into thier heads if there isnt something there in the first place, so they be like that forever

  • HermannH - 2011-12-14 07:06

    Cwele probably referred to China and the likes.

      Peter - 2011-12-14 07:43

      The woman who was executed was she a mule for CWELES wife who is waiting to go jail for drug dealing INTERESTING ????

  • Modefan - 2011-12-14 08:00

    What on earth could foreign spies want to steal from our government? Our super secret ultra nuclear defense weapon? ...Besides, it's common knowledge that government sits on their asses all day and nothing gets whatever they're building, it's not getting built

  • Jimmy - 2011-12-14 10:31

    lol , always the evil imperialists and now the bloody foreign agents ....

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