IFP calls for information bill protest

2011-05-27 20:39

Cape Town - Inkatha Freedom Party MP Mario Oriani-Ambrosini on Friday issued a call for popular protest to keep the Protection of Information Bill from becoming law.

"The time for protest is now, before it is too late," Oriani-Ambrosini said.

"Now is the time to occupy this place," he said of Parliament, adding that the remark was only "nominally" metaphorical.

Oriani-Ambrosini said the contentious draft law, which imposes a minimum prison term of 15 years for anybody who publishes a state secret, did not reflect the will of South Africans.

Instead it was clearly imposed by the top echelons of the ANC who were rejecting "the liberal agenda" the party followed for 15 years after the end of apartheid.

The nine ANC MPs on the ad hoc committee dealing with the bill were divided into those who did not grasp its repercussions and those who were clearly uncomfortable with it but had to follow political orders, he said.

Public ignored

"This bill does not reflect the will of the people. When there is a divorce between public policy and public opinion democracy does not work.

"Public submissions have been ignored and now even common sense is being ignored."

Opposition MPs should use filibustering - any means of obstructing legislation within Parliament - to block its passage, he said.

The DA said it planned to petition the president not to sign the law.

"We will listen to his proposal but I think we prefer the tried and trusted route of petitioning the President not to sign it into law," DA MP Dene Smuts said.

"The President cannot just sign the bill, he has to apply his mind as to its constitutionality," she said.

No indefinite debate

The party has successfully done so in the past with former presidents Nelson Mandela, Thabo Mbeki and Kgalema Motlanthe.

But its court bid to prove that President Jacob Zuma failed to apply his mind when he appointed Menzi Simelane as head of the National Prosecuting Authority failed.

The opposition's plans to halt the passage of the bill after it became clear this week that the committee was embarking on a drive to get it through Parliament without major further amendments.

The deadline for the committee to complete its work is June 24.

On Tuesday the chairperson, Cecil Burgess, stated that he would not allow indefinite debate on the bill and instead began putting contentious clauses to the vote.

This allowed the ANC majority to dismiss opposition arguments that the bill should neither apply to all organs of state nor give the minister of state security the power to determine when and how information is classified in government departments.

Apartheid era repression

Opposition MPs have termed this the "Stasi clause" in reference to East Germany's feared secret police and said it would entrench the existing situation where spies meddled in all areas of government and abused their powers.

The bill caused a public outcry last year. Academics, activists, journalists and former cabinet ministers warned it was an unconstitutional attempt to curtail media freedom and criticism of the government.

This week the Right2Know Campaign, which was born last year in response to the bill, said the legislation was reminiscent of apartheid-era repression and called for a revived campaign to stop the ANC ramming it through Parliament.

Idasa said it would not only affect the media, but would also infringe on the rights of poor communities by drawing a veil over the workings of government, including service delivery.

  • clark - 2011-05-27 21:02

    - As the official opposition, surely the DA must also call for protest marches across the country. Come on Helen , we've got to stop these Anc tyrants !

      GT - 2011-05-27 22:22

      Good luck with that plan Booysen. (are you an Ethiopian jew?)

      Ogre - 2011-05-27 22:25

      I called the Western Cape Branch of the DA yesterday to enquire as how I or any other citizen could get involved regarding this matter.I was told that Colette Louw would call me back. I am still waiting. Then called ANC offices to as where I could register an objection. Does not seem that they want to hear any critisism or did not know who to put me through to. If ever there was an important piece of legislation where the people of SA should get involved with, it is this ammendment to the info bill. Do the voters realise that the government can muzzle anybody or any government entity, from the members of parliament to your local goverment run library or zoo. If they do not like the results of any enquiry, financial statement, performance report, deployment report or any other document, be it hard copy or digital, that information can be witheld. If your local councillor, zookeeper, or anybody in the employ of the goverment notifies the media or any other entity of any such information and it gets printed or placed in the public domain, that councillor and the media can be liable to a minimum of 15 years in jail. In other words, any demands and strike action to obtain any information the government deems damageing to its image, will be useless.

      Ogre - 2011-05-27 22:48

      @ Booysen.Did you even read the article above. It does not matter what your affiliation is, the changes to this bill will affect you just as negatively as it will myself or someone that voted for the peanut galery party. Seeing that you proudly profess your religion, you of all people should realize that the atrocities committed by the Nazis were kept quiet until the extermination camps were overrun, purely because the access to that information was very well controlled. I think that you totally forgot about the content of the article as soon as you saw DA,Zille and ANC. This is about YOUR right to have access to information. If the government decides to FOR EXSAMPLE donate arms to the Palistinians or any entity that is anti- Jewish, wouldn't you like to have access to that information? And I disagree that man is born racist. No child is a racist until his parents or the surrounging community instills that in him. Take a good look the next time you go past a creshe. Those children do not hate each other, do not form groups based on race or religeon or political affiliations. They do not even have to talk and understand the same language to have fun. Makes you realise that all we adults are morons of the worst degree.

      FutureSA - 2011-05-27 22:54

      @ Ogre Well said. For if we don't get up and act now, then we shouldn't complain later! The delay in the bill was obviously arranged to hold back further debate on the Bill until after the elections. Now they are rushing it through asap to prevent further negative publicity for the government. The ANC can always push this through with their majority but national street protest will at least generate uncomfortable publicity both locally and internationally and just maybe, get a few more South AFricans to realise what they are really up to. (Not holding my breath on that one though)

      maseratifitt - 2011-05-27 23:01

      Booysen : 10/10 for missing the point, flying the racist flag and hedging.

      TamaraSays - 2011-05-27 23:09

      Booysen, I disagree, emphatically. I think if you take of the 3D glasses of indoctrination, you will see that most white South Africans wouldn't care a hoot who lead them. In fact, I've often lamented the fact that people like Moeletsi Mbeki and Trevor Manual (much maligned as he may be in the media) are not leading our country, because with intelligent, educated leaders, I would be hopeful for our country. I also emailed Lindiwe Mazibuko (not Helen Zille) to tell her that I would be proud to call her my president one day. Party politics are so last century. The fact is, the ANC would have a LOT more support from EVERYONE in South Africa if they weren't blatantly corrupt, and if their leaders weren't openly inciting genocide and crime. I think the term 'lead by example' comes into play here, and when that example is a drunken, lecherous or corrupt official, the thinking man (or woman) has to think "one bad apple spoils the whole damn bunch." In short? The ANC is there own worst enemy, and approving this bill will prove that not just here, but everywhere in the world. Can you say 'fascist, nazi, apartheid style media control?' Cos that's what this is.

      whatashame - 2011-05-27 23:41

      @ Booysen. The fact that you are Jewish is irrelevant and I'm not sure why you needed to mention it. Your vote is your choice and you probably vote ANC for the same reasons I always did. However the very laws they liberated us from, they now want to shackle us with. I do not agree with their policies and rhetoric any more, so my right to change my vote is my choice and my right. The ANC and others involved were extremely good at liberating us and I will always be grateful for that. This Bill was inevitable post elections and as far as I'm concerned is the first step to a dictatorship. Where do you come with the fact that whites are yearning for white power. Why would 70% of them have voted yes in the 92 referendum knowing full well a 'one man one vote' would lead to black rule. They were ready for this and how many of them proudly voted ANC in 94. Please get over yourself. I would never in my wildest dreams vote for DA or any other party for that matter if their policy was apartheid in any manner or form. Why would Zille introduce this now when she stood with the ANC in their fight for a non-racial democracy. Please you never have to vote DA and nobody is asking you too but please don't perpetuate the nonsense that she will bring back apartheid when she fought so hard against it. Read the postings from most white people - they don't care who leads them as long as they take the country forward. Liberators are only heroes for so long.That is Africa and we are African.

      Carl Muller - 2011-05-28 10:46

      To Booysen, I hope you know that power corrupts and ultimate power corrupts ultimately. Presently we are at the ultimate part. The ANC wants to suppress their corruption. We are not against the ANC, we are against corruption. Previously we were against the NP, they were the same because of the ultimate... Vote against corruption See what is coming out at Middelpos....

      clark - 2011-05-28 11:24

      - @ Booysen - WTF ? - You're about as Jewish as the Pope.Your name tag and racial accusations blows your Anc troll disguise.Your posting has got to be the most irrelevant,inapt bit of piffly hogwash, ever spewed. Dont take my word for it - observe your thumb downs.What a retard.

  • Hans - 2011-05-27 21:08

    To the barricades! Vive la Afrique du Sud!! To the guillotine with those who would remove our hard-won right to know!!!!

      maseratifitt - 2011-05-27 21:35

      Storm the Bastille! Extract the bus studs !

  • Hans - 2011-05-27 21:11

    Can we please have the names of the committee members dealing with this legislation? Particularly those Fascist ANC MP's voting in favour of the bill ... then we can publicise them as being those who are condoning and supporting the start of a new dictatorship in South Africa and rolling back our freedoms ...

      maseratifitt - 2011-05-27 21:32

      What an excellent idea. But if the bill gets passed you will be jailed if you knew anything.

  • Voyager - 2011-05-27 21:14

    Tell me when its happening and I'm there.

  • maseratifitt - 2011-05-27 21:14

    "The President cannot just sign the bill, he has to apply his mind as to its constitutionality," she said. If the President was a President to all South Africans, this could work. But we all know that he is first and foremost an ANC president- himself with much to hide from the public- and owing many others many favours. Thumbs up to the IFP for taking the stance of David.

  • Ralph - 2011-05-27 21:22


      maseratifitt - 2011-05-27 21:29


      Bryan - 2011-05-27 23:23

      Yes senkgisha would be great for the DA to rule this country, just a pity soooo many people ARE fooled twice, thrice...etc.

  • The Question - 2011-05-27 21:30

    It's about time the parties start getting more proactive in making a stand against the bill and openly call for the public to get involved.

  • Joe - 2011-05-27 21:32

    What is democracy - its a numbers game !!! No wonder the ANC calling on their people, the unedcuated masses to mate like rabbits!!!!

  • Lauren - 2011-05-27 21:42

    Oh dear. None of this bodes well. The agenda is as clear as daylight.

  • POLLENYS - 2011-05-27 21:50

    The President cannot just sign the bill, he has to apply his mind as to its constitutionality," ------------- Mind? What mind? Sure signs that we are moving to a dictatorship. But I suppose we can carry on saying the ANC and it's cadres are useless thieves, seeming that this is no state secret.

      whatashame - 2011-05-27 23:49

      And when Mugabe started this same nonsense, you were all sorts of names if you even suggested it wasn't right en kyk hoe lyk hulle nou.

  • Andrew - 2011-05-27 21:59

    Tell me where to be and I'm there!!! Well done IFP!! The ANC never mentioned this matter before the 2009 elections. They don't have a mandate from the people. IT IS TIME FOR A REFERENDUM!! The DA as official opposition is not doing enough. It's time for some real protest!!

  • maseratifitt - 2011-05-27 22:03

    We tend to forget that there are other moves in parallel with this : The ANC's own newspaper and efforts to filter the internet at ISP level. We will only see what the ANC wants us to see. Hear what they want us to hear, and think the way they want us to think. All this while they enjoy their luxuries at some exotic resort abroad,and think up some new ways to count votes.

  • velastardust - 2011-05-27 22:09

    Everyone including the DA should protest with vigour against this proposed bill to gag freedom of information. We must INSIST on the government being transparent. The ANC have steadily been working towards a one party state. They do not see anyone's criticism as constructive. The ANC are stuck in prehistoric times where open democracy is concerned. South Africans must oppose this bill now or live with manipulated press freedom. Every South African MUST remember what happened when the last government gagged freedom of press and flow of information. Do the voters want to be left in the dark again ? Remember, the government is here to serve the people, not plot and hide. This bill is meant to hide and is our biggest threat ever. We only have to look at the speech given by the Premier of Limpopo to understand that the leadership of the ANC cannot distinguish between despotism and democracy. To use Gaddafi and Mugabe amongst other in the same context as Mandela's leadership proves that they don't know the difference. Before the government makes a decision concerning the country and it's people, we have a right to know ! We must have a right to say and decide ! The government must never decide secretly and withhold information.

  • maseratifitt - 2011-05-27 22:18

    Democracy : Government by the people for the people. We employ people to do governmental jobs by using our vote. The people are the employer and the government is the employee. The employer should at all times know what the employee is doing. Hence all government information belongs to the people. This should be the starting point. Should any government member decide that a certain piece of information should be classified, this member should present his/her case to an independent panel of judges (say 5) which are appointed by all parties representing all South Africans. Classification should be done according to rigid predetermined criteria, agreed upon by all parties, and should be strictly limited to such information which can have a detrimental effect on the PEOPLE of SA, should it be made available to the public. If the ANC pushes through the current bill, the ANC should be branded as a non-democratic Party. It should then contest future elections as such.

      Schalk - 2011-05-28 16:18

      I could not agree more.Lets see how many SA'cans take the future of SA seriousely and join the protest and demand a referendum. I see a bad moon arising.....I see trouble on the way...Looks like these despots are hell bent on breaking our country.

  • The Question - 2011-05-27 22:18

    Soon we will have our own version of China's "Great Firewall"... the idea has already been proposed with the aim of monitoring the internet to protect us against harmful material like child pornography and such, but with secrecy bill they'll quickly be able to classify other information they think we shouldn't know about as a secret...

  • GT - 2011-05-27 22:21

    CEcil Burgess is an idiot and a leading danger to the freedom of this country. This has been made clear. THIS IS THE MOST SERIOUS THREAT TO EVERYONE'S FREEDOM we have faced since 1986. If you are an ANC supporter and think this is a good thing, just consider the day you need access to information and protection from the state. I cannot BELIEVE we are sleepwalking into this, it is distressing.

  • Geo Farmer - 2011-05-27 22:26

    I think this calls for, ROLLING MASS ACTION!!!against the corrupt ANC REGIME.

  • Yrrab - 2011-05-27 23:43

    The best weapon of a dictatorship is secrecy, but the best weapon of a democracy should be the weapon of openness... Once a government is committed to the principle of silencing the voice of opposition, it has only one way to go, and that is down the path of increasingly repressive measures, until it becomes a source of terror to all its citizens and creates a country where everyone lives in fear. The result is to be watched, inspected, spied upon, directed, law-driven, numbered, regulated, enrolled, indoctrinated, preached at, controlled, checked, estimated, valued, censured, commanded, by creatures who have neither the right nor the wisdom nor the virtue to do so. The aim is to be at every operation, at every transaction noted, registered, counted, taxed, stamped, measured, numbered, assessed, licensed, authorized, admonished, prevented, forbidden, reformed, corrected, punished. It is, under pretext of public utility, and in the name of the general interest, to be placed under contribution, drilled, fleeced, exploited, monopolized, extorted from, squeezed, hoaxed, robbed; then, at the slightest resistance, the first word of complaint, to be repressed, fined, vilified, harassed, hunted down, abused, clubbed, disarmed, bound, choked, imprisoned, judged, condemned, shot, deported, sacrificed, sold, betrayed; and to crown all, mocked, ridiculed, derided, outraged, dishonoured. That is our government; that is its justice; that is its morality.

      clark - 2011-05-28 14:17

      - Yrrab - yet another incisive expose from you . Really enjoy your contributions.

  • WarPig - 2011-05-27 23:50

    We have to do someting NOW to stop this oppressive regime destroying this critical bastion of democracy. Nattering on forums doesn't help! Its time to get hold of the opposotion and initiate some mass NOW before its too late. Reply to this if you want to do the same.

      Geo Farmer - 2011-05-28 02:29

      WarPig, You are quite right,"Nattering on Forums won't HELP" Read the GODFATHER OF NON VIOLENT RESISTANCE Gene Sharp's :FROM DICTATORSHIP TO DEMOCRACY & 198 METHODS of NON VIOLENT RESISTANCE The ANC showed us how sucessfull ROLLING MASS ACTION can be.All we have to do is to initiate what TUNISA / EGYPT / LIBIYA citizens did and it won't be long before the CORRUPT ANC REGIME will be on its knees.

      TamaraSays - 2011-05-29 08:20

      Fight it internationally - locally is too late! We have the single biggest weapon against this, literally, at our fingertips. Blog about it. Email people in foreign governments about it. Post on international forums, and on social networks. If enough people get involved in an electronic campaign, every time anyone reads about South Africa online, they will see this bill mentioned. Enough international pressure, and the threat of sanctions, and something will HAVE to be done to stop this!

      maseratifitt - 2011-05-29 10:32

      You are right, Tamara. There are currently two places (which I'm aware of) where one can petition: and the "Right to Know" website. Hopefully these NGO's will also take the cause to an international forum.

  • Geo Farmer - 2011-05-28 03:06

    Quote: Even more than a week after the elections the ANC's anger was palpable, as Sam Mkokeli reported in Business Day (May 27): "Last week's local government election results have left the (ANC) in a spin....its deep-seated anger at the media has emerged again....the ANC is the dominant party it wants to have a hand in every part of society. This is a ruling party that expects to be feared by a media that it increasingly tries to bully." REACHING THE TURNING POINT by RW Johnson :

  • PietrJoubert - 2011-05-28 06:31

    The murder of transparency, and even its brother democracy, in South Africa. And people like Booysen are still beating around the bush about it. If we stand idly by, we are all accessory to this murder.

  • Carl Muller - 2011-05-28 10:48

    We have the best constitution in the world. Except for this low class bid from the ANC.

  • StoneAngel - 2011-05-28 13:53

    "When Oh when will the opposition parties call their supporters out in protest (non violent!)? What about a few days of shutting down the country and showing the African Nepotism Corruption party what power the opposition parties and their supporters have . Sadly the whites cannot stand together - we need a few concerned blacks to organise the protests but they too seem to be very quiet about this most serious matter. Anyone from the DA care to comment?" The above is a post that I put up a few days ago - Well done to the IFP - question is where are the rest of the OPPOSITION PARTIES so far I have seen NOTHING substantial from the DA - time is running out - it will be too late soon - will someone in authority in the Opposition parties lead us - you should know how it works.

      Frazzled - 2011-05-28 17:19

      Join the Right to Know Campaign. "The Right2Know campaign is calling for a new period of action to stop the secrecy bill. We call on all those who are seriously concerned by this turn of events to make their collective voices heard now." It said the ANC must abandon efforts to pass the bill in its current form and go back to the drawing board to produce a piece of legislation that is in line with the Constitution.

  • Frazzled - 2011-05-28 17:11

    One of the oldest models of governance is the so-called Authoritarian model. This is still very commonly found in a huge variety of countries, especially those who are not democracies or "true" democracies. Before the change from Apartheid to a democracy, this model was also the order of the day in SA. The underlying principle is that the media is in the service of the state and therefore subordinate to the state. The state is more important than the individuals and nothing should be said or done which can undermine or damage the authority of the state. In short, the media must always protect the interests of the state. The reasons for this may vary from country to country. The major drawback here is clearly that the "truth" is often limited. The ANC, realising that they may be on the verge of losing a few hearts and minds (and along with them votes and all the glorious trappings of power), have resorted to the well-worn practice of misinformation. 1. curb existing media freedoms. 2. flood the media with pro-party propaganda (the Good News Guptas come to mind here). Some members of Parliament have a very scary, paternalistic and anti-democratic view of the world and of our constitutional democracy. The view that the government or the state was the only appropriate body to protect citizens (or that citizens were so frail that we had to be protected from hearing upsetting information – say – about a cabinet Minister awarding tenders to himself). According to this view, ordinary citizens need to be protected from information that could upset us because such information could persuade us to vote for another party. And if that was allowed, we would have to ban voting and then it would be a bit more difficult to pretend we live in a democracy.

  • KARINBRYNARD - 2011-05-30 14:44

    Each and every journalist, educator, NGO-worker, writer, political party will have to join the opposition to this legislation. Especially the few of us who were there in the seventies and eighties when newspapers and news magazines and books were banned by the apartheid state!

  • lungelo mpatho - 2011-06-02 14:24

    Good call from the IFP, but all of the opposition partys (as well those that love democracy within the ruling ANC) should join hands here and fight this law.

      lungelo mpatho - 2011-06-02 14:27


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