ANC tables new info bill changes

2012-11-21 23:01

Cape Town - The ANC proposed changes to the contentious protection of state information bill again on Wednesday, this time tending to the liberal.

The ruling party went against the wishes of State Security Minister Siyabonga Cwele by proposing to reinsert a clause offering protection for those who reveal classified information to expose a crime.

The move was welcomed by the Democratic Alliance as "indeed very good".

Last month, Cwele argued in a much-criticised appearance before the ad hoc NCOP committee finalising the bill that there should be no such provision, as only a court, and not a whistleblower, could determine whether something is a crime.

African National Congress lawmakers furthermore agreed to remove clause 1 (4) of the bill, which states that the measure will trump the progressive Promotion of Access to Information Act of 2002.

The minister had argued for - and briefly obtained - the retention of the clause, which some critics believe could be unconstitutional.

Instead, the ANC said it would like to reword the preceding clause 1 (3) to state that in case of a clash between the new official secrets legislation and any other law, courts must prefer a reasonable interpretation that avoids a conflict "taking into consideration the need to protect and classify certain state information in terms of this act".

Thirdly, they also made a proposal to give explicit permission to the public protector, the auditor general and all other chapter nine institutions to be in possession of classified information.

The party said this was in response to an impassioned plea by Public Protector Thuli Madonsela in March that, as it stood, the bill could severely hamper the work of her office.

Madonsela said she received secret documents on a routine basis and would risk arrest if the bill became law as is.

Introducing the proposed change to clause 5 (3), MP Teboho Chaane said it had become clear that, apart from the Cabinet, these institutions needed the authority to have access to classified information to properly function.

"We realised that they may face a situation where they may not have access to information and it may disturb the way in which they want to support democracy."

This change too was welcomed by the opposition, although other parties complained when the ANC added the proviso that this authority would have to be limited, for example, to staff from the institutions who had undergone security clearance.

Wednesday's meeting had been billed as the one where the lawmakers would vote on the bill clause by clause, but this will not happen until at least next week.

The committee's latest deadline to report to the National Council of Provinces expires at the end of the month.

Committee chairman Raseriti Tau said he believed the council would still vote on the bill this year, and then refer it back to the National Assembly for approval.

Since the upper house has its last session on Thursday, this can happen only in the new year, in keeping with observers' belief that the ruling party is in no hurry to finalise a bill that divides it before its elective conference in Manguang next month.

  • Stephen Radebe - 2012-11-21 23:50

    I wonder the african national congress. Is now are opposition is no more are ruling congress.

      Tyrone Grobbelaar - 2012-11-22 00:59


      J.Stephen.Whiteley - 2012-11-22 06:06

      I think he means that he regrets the ruling party is going soft on the Bill.

      arthur.salvado - 2012-11-22 07:55

      Wow, S Radebe for president. He can debate with Zuma all day and WIN.

      jacques.smit - 2012-11-22 09:53

      in english please?

      nrgx.nrg - 2012-11-22 10:18

      Wut we haf here, is wut haf happened, and know we will not rEst until we know where duz these english tings come from!

      sean.carbutt - 2012-11-22 10:22

      Sorry bro, but my Klingon is a bit rusty. What was that?

      morris.khunou - 2012-11-22 11:16

      @ Stephe> Common Baas from your mask and be real! This is a white person!

  • arcticencounter - 2012-11-22 00:25

    Tending to be liberal, or PRETENDING to be liberal?

  • sheik.mohammad.378 - 2012-11-22 01:05

    Don't know why they pushing this bill, the secret is out and everyone knows that the ANC is presently run by fools.

      mc.segal.5 - 2012-11-22 05:54

      And Crooks

  • Lourens Setlako - 2012-11-22 04:19

    criminals will always try to cover their tracks l

  • Asdiedamwalbars - 2012-11-22 04:57

    Theft, fraud, money laundry, corruption and self well as the hiding of abuse of taxpayers money, as well as secret projects that hampered the security of the citizens of this country in the country, is this the great agenda behind this information bill. If there are no secret agendas..or anything to hide..why the urgency to let this bill pass if there is nothing or any shame to the world and the taxpayers to hide.. They definitely do want to hide self interests and other agendas from the country and their voters to find out.

  • brionyl.french - 2012-11-22 05:01


  • mshiniboys - 2012-11-22 06:00

    It took them too long to even know that there is something called access to information in te constitution...something that i have know for the past ten years.disgrace.

  • douglas.reid.921 - 2012-11-22 06:18

    Just hand over the tapes

      jacques.smit - 2012-11-22 09:57

      If they exist..

  • chris.potgieter.73 - 2012-11-22 06:32

    One can clearly see the lop sided thinking in: Last month, Cwele argued in a much-criticised appearance before the ad hoc NCOP committee finalising the bill that there should be no such provision, as only a court, and not a whistleblower, could determine whether something is a crime. Surely, Mister Minister, your statement must then apply to who may determine what information is to be declared 'secret'. The bottom line remains that nothing a government may do must ever be able to be declared off limits to the voters. The reality is that no government should be able to commit acts that make this legislation necessary.

  • cedric.hedgcock - 2012-11-22 07:23

    “A critical, independent and investigative press is the lifeblood of any democracy. The press must be free from state interference. It must have the economic strength to stand up to the blandishments of government officials. It must have sufficient independence from vested interests to be bold and inquiring without fear or favour. It must enjoy the protection of the constitution, so that it can protect our rights as citizens”. NELSON MANDELA - AT THE INTERNATIONAL PRESS INSTITUTE CONGRESS, 14 FEBRUARY 1994 Just saying!!

  • ziso.maziso - 2012-11-22 10:31

    Typical signs of a landslide...seconds from disaster...

  • morris.khunou - 2012-11-22 11:14

    The Bill is fine in its current form and does not need to be changed! Infact it has been tampered with a lot and will loose its original purpose and value. All states have classified information! Period!

  • Montagnes.Bleues - 2012-11-22 12:26

    APATHETIC YOUTH have no idea what they are ignorant of by not opposing this vigorously, and what the consequences to themselves will be.

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