Activists vow to challenge info bill

2012-11-28 21:01

Cape Town - The Right2Know Campaign on Wednesday warned it will launch a constitutional challenge to the protection of state information bill if it is signed into law without further amendments.

"The secrecy bill remains a threat to our democracy and we will continue our campaign to stop the secrecy bill," the movement, born in opposition to the official secrets draft law, said in a statement.

"If Parliament fails to introduce the necessary amendments and President [Jacob] Zuma signs it into law, the Right2Know will take the fight to the Constitutional Court."

ANC MPs on the National Council of Provinces ad hoc committee handling the bill on Tuesday approved a report adopting the legislation, while opposition MPs walked out in protest.

It is scheduled to be debated in the council on Thursday and is likely to be passed, thanks to the ruling party's majority.

The bill will then be sent back to the National Assembly for approval before the president can sign it.

Right2Know said despite last-minute amendments, the bill still clashed with the constitutional rights to freedom of information and expression and was likely to lead to over-classification.

It criminalised mere possession of secret documents, as well as publishing classified information even already in the public domain.

And, the group added, lawmakers had failed to narrow down the definition of national security as the rationale for classification sufficiently, leaving room for security officials to suppress disclosures in the public interest.

"The secrecy bill still carries the fingerprints of the securocrats who have remained the 'hidden hand' behind this process from the start."

MPs should vote with their conscience and reject the bill, it said.

The SA National Editor's Forum also said the bill remained a threat to democracy and urged NCOP members to reject it and force a redraft.

"We call on members to take this final opportunity to reject it outright, by voting against the bill.

The SA Chapter of Media Institute of Southern Africa (Misa-SA) appealed to NCOP members to vote against the bill.

"If this is done media freedom - which is no more than the peoples’ freedom - will be protected and the government’s ability to throw a cloak of secrecy over activities that the public should know about will be curtailed," Misa-SA chairman, Raymond Louw, said in a statement on Wednesday evening.

One of the bill's contested features was the power it gave the state security minister, Louw said.

"Misa-SA calls on members of the NCOP to show their determination not to be dictated to by a Cabinet minister and go the whole hog by voting against the bill.

"This will mean the bill will have to be redrafted from scratch so that it meets the demands that official secrets should be clearly and narrowly defined...

"By doing so, they can send a clear message that the protection of state information bill must be thoroughly redrafted to ensure that state secrecy is narrowly defined, the powers of bureaucrats and security officials limited, and basic constitutional principles respected."

  • andrew.hendrikse - 2012-11-28 21:14

    Right2Know has my full support!!! This bill will destroy our country as the thieves in government will have more than just the upper hand!!

  • tlou.andries.58 - 2012-11-28 21:39

    From now on i will neva cast/register to vote until God dcided to take me,cos this morons we call our leaders they do wat they pleased.God will deal wth them.i wil continue to hv a gud life wthout worring abov a party/leader.God bls gud ppl of Mzanzi.

      mark.a.fysh - 2012-11-28 23:25

      A vote against Zuma would be another thorn in his ample flesh, don't you think, Andries. Hope that is what you will rather do.

  • altus.kirsten - 2012-11-28 22:02

    Corruption approved by ANC and signed by Zuma! Whites should just stop paying tax.

      Ntobeko Zungu - 2012-11-29 08:17

      its not just about white ppl atlus mxm

  • peter.mokoena.31 - 2012-11-28 22:04

    We shud fight to know more than we do now. If that right can be taken away we will never know the skeletons that eats our ta taxes. Right to know shud be supported with evev hope that these thing of two thirds majority should never happens in our lifetime.they shud never be allowed to get away with these.their income depends on who is ruling at present, hence they have no backbone and end up being puppets. Just like OUTA, we shud support Right to Know.sick!

  • ifosfamide - 2012-11-28 22:19

    South Africa > ANC

      ifosfamide - 2012-11-28 22:37

      Or any other party..... Right2Know has my full support.

  • hein.huyser - 2012-11-28 22:32

    Never again. Never

      deon.jansevanrensburg.58 - 2012-11-29 06:27

      Ja right, famous last words that is as empty now as when they were when uttered by Mandela years ago.

  • Erna - 2012-11-29 00:22

    And the anc stooges wonder why everything goes to court. It's because the anc doesn't listen to anyone else. They're too arrogant to think that they could be wrong.

  • theMichaelHawthorne - 2012-11-29 03:23

    The anc wants to hide their corruption from public. If the bill protected state secrets like locations of armories, login information for government networks etc I could understand the use of a secrecy bill but we and by we I mean I don't want a government with secrets I want to know everything call me nuskierig but that is the right thing to do.

  • Asdiedamwalbars - 2012-11-29 04:45

    The Gov don't give damn how much it will hurt our will serve their own greedy interests..because they follow the good advice of their great friends..and dictators of very poor communists supporting countries...who said so?....because Rob Mugabe, who they visit a while back..said also so.

  • Martha1234 - 2012-11-29 06:15

    A democratic country needs a transparent government, simple as that! This bill should be named the "corruption cover up bill"

  • Dane.Billionaire.Prinsloo - 2012-11-29 09:13

    The Right2Know have my full support as well.

  • Gerald Jordaan - 2012-11-30 04:50

    Zuma et al (and especially Gamat Pietersen) want this legislation to hide behind so that they can steal our taxes with impunity !! F*ck the ANC !!

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