Cwele twists ANC's arm on info bill

2012-11-13 22:37

Cape Town - The ANC agreed on Tuesday to some of State Security Minister Siyabonga Cwele's hawkish proposals on the protection of state information bill.

Cwele notably appeared to have persuaded the ruling party to re-introduce a maximum five-year prison sentence for the disclosure of classified information, and to re-introduce a clause that would have the new law trump any other legislation dealing with such information.

Without explicitly naming the Promotion of Access to Information Act, the new official secrets act would therefore trump it - as Cwele has asked for, and commentators have cautioned could render the bill unconstitutional.

African National Congress MP Sam Mozisiwe also indicated that the party would water down the protection afforded to whistleblowers and the media in section 43, more or less along the lines proposed by the minister a fortnight ago.

But the party would not bow to Cwele's argument that the threshold for liability be lowered by re-inserting the term "ought reasonably to have known" in the offences clauses in the contentious law.

"We have looked into that and unfortunately for now we are unable to agree with the department on that," Mozisiwe said.

The Democratic Alliance and the Congress of the People said they were disappointed with the ANC's decisions, especially to limit the protection given to whistleblowers under clause 43.

"We need to add to make this a substantial exemption clause in place of a public interest clause," said DA MP Alf Lees.

The opposition, rights groups and the ANC's alliance partner, the Congress of SA Trade Unions, have all argued in vain for a public interest principle to be written into the bill as a legal defence for those charged with revealing state secrets.

But the ANC has always ruled it out, with Cwele saying it would amount to tearing up the bill before it became law.

The minister has been widely criticised for putting his views to the department last month, with opposition parties saying he was flouting the separation of powers.

The minister and the party have defended it as a salutatory exchange of views.

"We have agreed to some of their proposals, which is quite a number of them, and we have also disagreed with some of their proposals," said the ANC's Teboho Chaane, the acting chairperson of the ad hoc committee finalising the bill in the National Council of Provinces (NCOP).

Chaane scheduled another meeting for Wednesday to finalise deliberations on the bill, before political parties will vote on it in committee.

After two-and-a-half years of controversy, it is due to be debated in the NCOP by month's end.

It then has to be sent back to the National Assembly, which will be able to deal with it only in the new year.

  • Claudia_Meads - 2012-11-13 22:53

    Very intersting that this coincides with Zuma's refusal to release THE 'tapes'...

      lsfreak - 2012-11-13 23:12

      But it's goin through in Feb next year before we wipe our eyes after Xmas...Wait can't say that... After the year end break :D

  • JohnDough - 2012-11-13 23:17

    The downhill slope just got steeper.

  • debduplessis - 2012-11-13 23:31

    ANC must GO... they taking everyone down into the gutter with them!

      Adil Smit - 2012-11-13 23:51

      Who are you angry at?

      joe.smit.549 - 2012-11-14 04:21

      Probably take a while to work that out.......

      DrGonzoSA - 2012-11-14 08:12

      Ah Mr Angry, your life will be so much better if she goes wont it? You will magically become rich, because..... well i dont know quite how it works, perhaps you would like to explain?

      jacqui.daanevanrensburg - 2012-11-14 11:30

      Blackyoungandangry is a troll that had just started to copy and paste. Ignore the little twerp.

  • kingkongVB - 2012-11-13 23:45

    all this has to hapen before sa can move fwd.people in africa only learn by suffering first.

      harald.voney - 2012-11-14 08:17

      even then... they don't learn!

  • andy.mku.9 - 2012-11-13 23:54

    state security minister ddnt knw his wife had a drugs warehouse in one of their bedrooms

  • letlhogonolo.selebalo - 2012-11-14 00:46

    after the bill is past his wife will be free to trade again and hw, will never knw

      Billy - 2012-11-14 07:05

      yeah thats the thing, his wife is just one of them that got caught. who els is selling/using drugs amongst them. i can think of a few that show typical behaviour of a user.

      harald.voney - 2012-11-14 08:23

      If my wife/girlfriend was dealing; how the F@#$K could I not know about it!!! its rediculous!!

  • tw2066 - 2012-11-14 05:50

    Betcha, a whole bunch of citizens re-vote ANC. If this is the case then they have NO RIGHT to bitch about apartheid, because clearly the ANC is FAAAAAR worse.

  • maureen.churchill.9 - 2012-11-14 06:06

    Seemingly everything Zimbabwe does we follow suit, to say you disgust me is putting it mildly. 5 years for telling us what we need to know is outrageous.

  • Gatvol Griet - 2012-11-14 06:36

    Dancing to the tunes of their One World puppet masters overseas.

  • gerrit.vanpletzen - 2012-11-14 06:46

    Take it to the Concourt. Some of the clauses are unconstitutional, and when transparency is endangered, the clauses should be scrapped.

      zmvulane - 2012-11-14 10:10

      What clauses are those?

  • braamc - 2012-11-14 06:47

    Here is a state secret: The ANC is all filthy corrupt thieves

  • ro.jhb.1 - 2012-11-14 06:49

    Cry the beloved country. The ANC have managed to f_ck it up in record time. Treasonous if you ask me

  • tim.brink.1238 - 2012-11-14 07:35

    Who has has ex wife sitting for 20? They cant help themselves: thieving, corrupt ANC

  • jacqui.daanevanrensburg - 2012-11-14 11:29

    So much to hide, so please let's have a law that will safeguard our freedom to lie and steal. ANC democracy? Sounds more like fascism to me.

  • nkosie.ngubane.52 - 2012-11-14 11:58

    u must go jail and keep quite

  • talana.malherbe - 2012-11-14 12:31

    The info bill goes against everything a Democracy stands for, plain and simple!

      zmvulane - 2012-11-14 12:38

      How so?

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