Info bill flawed and insulting - Tutu

2011-11-21 22:29

Johannesburg - The protection of state information bill is flawed and insulting to South Africans, Archbishop Emeritus Desmond Tutu said on Monday.

"It is insulting to all South Africans to be asked to stomach legislation that could be used to outlaw whistle-blowing and investigative journalism... and that makes the state answerable only to the state," he said in a statement.

The bill will come before the National Assembly for a vote on Tuesday.

Tutu said he was appealing to MPs to acknowledge the backlash the bill had caused.

"Please hear the warnings of the academics, civil society leaders, labour representatives, media corps, and legal and Constitutional experts," he said.

"This law will do our people and our country a disservice."

'Patently flawed'

If the bill is passed, 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, malpractice or corruption in government.

"A state is entitled to keep information outside the public domain in instances where publication may jeopardise state security," Tutu said.

"But if the legal mechanism created to protect state security... prevents criminality from being exposed, the mechanism is patently flawed."

Various human rights groups and media houses across the country were expected to protest against the bill on Tuesday.

National Press Club (NPC) chair, Yusuf Abramjee, said the day "will mark the start of a dark day for freedom of speech, freedom of expression and media freedom".

The NPC asked people opposed to the bill to wear black clothes, a black ribbon or a black armband.

It named the campaign "Black Tuesday", based on what became known as "Black Wednesday" - October 19 1977 when the apartheid government banned The World, the Sunday World and a Christian publication Pro Veritas, as well almost 20 people and organisations associated with the black consciousness movement.

On Monday the state security agency (SSA) said claims that the bill would lead to censorship and information blackouts were sensationalist.

"It is not correct that there will be mass classification of information as the application of the bill is narrowed drastically to national security departments," SSA spokesperson Brian Dube said in a statement.

"To argue that life under the protection of state information bill will be characterised by censorship and information blackouts is sensationalising of the highest order."

  • Bokfan - 2011-11-21 22:47

    Strue Arch. Now lets chase the rogues from parliament.

  • KazHSE - 2011-11-22 01:00

    With this law being passed today it will be safe to say "Break out the KY and bend over South Africa, you're about to get screwed!"

  • Francois - 2011-11-22 02:07

    "the media will not be able to claim it acted in the pubic interest" - see the Freudian slip in para 7.

      Gungets - 2011-11-22 06:14

      No slip. The law provides that the "public interest" is not a valid reason to print something which the government has classified. In other words, if a government official (or anyone for that matter) commits a crime, and the government classifies informtaion about it, then the press will be "committing a crime" if it published information about that crime. In a nutshell, the government has the absolute discretion over what it allows the press or media to report. ----> Just in time for Zuma's Arms Deal enquiry, just in time for Mac Maharaj to NOT face the music. F@#k sakes, even in time for Joemat-Pettersson to not have to explain her hotel bills or other ministers to have to explain millions in travel. They have already done it - classified their hotels as "state secrets" as having their hotels named endangers their lives. It's a joke!!

      Donovan - 2011-11-22 07:18

      @Gungets. Francois was referring to the word PUBIC not public notice the missing letter? hint(L)

      Gungets - 2011-11-22 08:31

      Ahhh, my balls up (sic). I see they have fixed it.

      Paul - 2011-11-22 15:25

      Tha ANC feel like lice in the pubic area. and that's no secret.

  • Kevin - 2011-11-22 05:27

    The anc is flawed and insulting to SA

  • Gary - 2011-11-22 06:56

    Hello Zimbabwe, here we come! Those who still can, now is the time to look for greener pastures!

  • Natalie - 2011-11-22 07:23

    Where does "Freedom of Speech" fit into all of this or is speech only free once government has censored what can be said? If government actually did what they got paid to do, there would be nothing to report. It's like a bully on the playground or spoilt brat throwing his/her toys, until they get their way. If this situation wasn't serious it would actually be laughable. What a frikken joke

  • Travis - 2011-11-22 07:29

    It IS extremely insulting to South Africans since there is already corruption within the ANC. It just goes to show that the ANC have a lot to hide!!

  • Philip - 2011-11-22 07:46

    BUT Tutu, these are your mates??? what happened??

      Steve - 2011-11-24 11:46

      The Arch is still fighting the good fight - just his "mates" arent..

  • digitaldique - 2011-11-22 07:56

    WIth Facebook, Twitter and other Internet forums, it will become impossible to suppress news. Add 1984 to Animal Farm!

      robbie.crouch - 2011-11-22 12:50

      But if you did use it to expose something you could be arrested!

  • Vicker - 2011-11-22 08:01

    Time for talking and asking nicely is passed - time now for action...

  • guy.goes1 - 2011-11-22 08:03

    Kill information,kill our democracy. you want no focus no idea no hope join the anc.

  • msendi - 2011-11-22 08:03

    "The bill will come before the National Assembly for a vote on Tuesday". If it is a bad idea, the majority of those who are eligible to vote will vote against it. If the majority give it a thumbs up, there is nothing we can do…

      Anton - 2011-11-22 08:33

      Your statement will only hold true IF it were a competent government with integrity and a bona fide will to respond responsibly to their fiduciary duties. The government doens't know the difference between a good idea and a bad idea for the country - their criteria is simply "will it suit us -as a government- best?"

      msendi - 2011-11-22 08:50

      The National Assembly has 400 members representing 16 political parties. The number of seats that a party has in the Assembly is in proportion to the number of voters that voted for it in the elections, taken from Voting for this Bill is a continuation of a democratic process. Most of the parties who are making a lot of noise have the word "Democracy" in name of their parties. What kind of democracy they represent????… They must convince voters to vote against this bill and it will be over…

      Gungets - 2011-11-22 09:42

      Msendi - Sadly, with this bill, there will probably never be another election where the voter is allowed to have all the information needed to make a rational and sensible choice. Those of us that are old enough know this - we have seen it first hand. I have been shamed by young people asking me "how could you possibly NOT know what the Nationalists were doing". I have hollow answers because it is impossible to explain how we simply accepted the media gags of the Nat government. When my children ask how we allowed it to happen again, I need to be able to stand up and say that I at least raised my voice.

      msendi - 2011-11-22 10:32

      @Gungets… Unfortunately we are living in a democratic state where every voter is proportionally represented in Parliament. Where there is a disagreement, vote have a power to decide. Sometimes it is not right for the minority to suppress democracy if they know that they don't stand a chance…

      Yar - 2011-11-22 10:44

      @msendi The problem does not lie with all of the politicians. Only the 264 sheep from the ANC.

      Gungets - 2011-11-22 10:56

      @Msendi - and there is the weakness of democracy. You vote once every 5 years and then the people elected have completely unfettered power to do what they like. I have had that sort of government for 16 voting year. I did not like it then and I don't like it now. The dangers of this are only apparent years after it is possible to stop it. You and I will live to remember this day, and regret it. Unless you are in the inner circle and believe in authouritrian leadership. Please trust me on this one thing - one day, your children or grandchildren will ask how this came to pass. My children have already asked me this of Apartheid. My 17 year old asked me this morning "Dad, is this how apartheid started". I decided to ignore the question, we will have the long discussion tonight. Right now my answer is "Yes sweetie, I think so, but at least this time we tried to stop it".

      msendi - 2011-11-22 11:50

      @ Yar… Hatred will never solve any problem… @ Gungets… Well said, only if we have more people like you…

      Gungets - 2011-11-22 13:13

      @Msendi - there are plenty of right minded people. I am meeting friends this evening. One ANC oke (white guy, has been a member since 1973, detained for his affiliation), one dyed-in-wool DA oke, me (non-aligned and will support what is good for the people in my suburb, city, province and country - in that order). It's all good. We engage, agree, disagree, sometimes fight, but we never talk with blinkers on. Sadly, this forum, unlike real life, allows the anonymous to vent their frustrations, no matter the cost. Sad but true. Go well boet, long live sensible democracy, hopefully it will survive this day and the days ahead.

      Steve - 2011-11-24 12:02

      So paranoid to comment.. Do you think they will arrest me?lol I Think alot of the leading party members {free thinkers} are scared of voting against the bill for fear of being labelled as dissidents..

  • Angry_Youth - 2011-11-22 08:17

    Ah Bishop, tragically I do not think the government cares what our real leaders have to say. :(

  • John - 2011-11-22 08:26

    A government that is not transparent is a corrupt government. State security!! what a laugh. Are we being infiltrated by alians, is Botswana planning to go to war with SA? What a load of crap - this bill is being implemenented to cover for the theft and corruption that takes place on a daily basis by government officials. The ANC is no better than the apartheid government. Maybe even worse!

  • Getafix - 2011-11-22 08:31

    Theses ANC officials seriously need to pour a hot cup of coffee, sit down and spill it all over themselves. This aint gonna fly, millions are against this, and only a few hundred want to implement it. The uprisings are going to start soon.

  • Adam - 2011-11-22 08:41

    Yes Arch.,but this government is flawed and insulting,also corrupt,intelligence deprived,shameless,and an enemy to their electorate.Chase these vermin out.

  • Stanley - 2011-11-22 08:42

    Is there a possibility for anyone with legit info on the govt corruption and also their cronies' to publish / forward / send it to the word press / wiki's before the bill is passed? Groot asseblief! We freedom-loving, truth-declaring, taxed-to-debt legit citizens of South Africa need these info and also a tax break! Speak, Tutu, speak! Please don't let no rock outcry you, for if your voice are silenced, maybe the rocks should start their campaign of protest (biblically speaking... )

  • Marion - 2011-11-22 09:01

    I'm wearing black today.

  • Silvia - 2011-11-22 09:14

    it is a sad day in our country, where the same people who fort for the freedom which we are suppose to have today are the same people who are practising oppression in our society. I am wearing black because I am morning for my country.

  • tummi.malesa - 2011-11-22 09:23

    I lestned to the ANC Chief Whip explaining the whole info bill and why it should be put into law and i thought hmmm what a load of crap,this can now be compared to Zim why dont they get a state owned Media house while they are at it.This means all these Juicy stories about corrupt ministers will not be out i mean the Government will always do bad things and cause some poor Journo will be afraid to be arrested we wont know.But Tutu was right about one thing it might not be in my life time but the ANC lead Govenment will be democraticly toppled cause the next Generation will not be so apologetic or sympathetic towards the ANC Yo nna ke lapile

      Steve - 2011-11-24 12:20

      Mooi so tummi - so n bek kort jam!

  • Cuthbert - 2011-11-22 09:35

    A certain country north from here has it's journalists' thrown in jail for any anti-ruling party news. The A.N.C pretended to be brokering peace there yet they were busy uploading files on the draconian press laws. More oppressive bills are on the way. Hell hath no fury like a clueless and corrupt ruling party. Maybe it's bye-bye to these news websites if this ruling party is not brought down to earth where it belongs.

  • Power - 2011-11-22 11:09

    The people should know what the people whom they voted for are doing. The country do not belong to the goverment (ANC Leaders). They are merely there to serve the people.

  • mr.james.preston - 2011-11-22 11:24

    It's just amazing to not see Julius Malema in any of the headlines these days. That's how big this story is.

  • Winsome - 2011-11-22 13:30

    The Arch speaks for us all on this one.

  • johnkk - 2011-11-22 14:58

    It is VERY clear that we as South African citizens are on a downward spiral with this government. If our government put the same effort into fixing State hospitals, Education and State owned enterprises SAA, as they have into this bill, then maybe we would be heading in the opposite direction. I speak to people from various political parties, and we all want the same things. Good schools, good roads, clean and operational hospitals, safe and clean neighbourhoods. Yet the current government is not giving us this. Even the car guards that I talk to are starting to see that the way the ANC are managing South Africa is faulty. We have a young and educated force (black & white) that are going to be treated like second rate citizens in other countries because we have not stood up to the daylight RAPE of this country. This Bill and the excessive corrupt activity that is to follow is going to breakdown the moral of every self respecting South African, which will in turn lead to an unproductive country. We only have to look at Zimbabwe to see where we are going. Look at Zimbabwe in the 1980's and look at them now. I plead with every South African to stand up and VOTE against this government. VOTE FOR ANY OTHER PARTY THAT IS IN OPPOSITION.

  • ndzalamah - 2011-11-22 18:26

    Its passed, deal with it. Wat give u d idea that the anc ddnt get academics to advice them. Anc will rule until i die, till u die. Viva anc viva...

  • Antonia - 2011-11-22 20:00

    With no freedom of speech there is no Democracy. From what I read S:A: is heading for a dictatorsip. Be aware!!!

  • Chabi - 2011-11-22 20:32

    Go on pension man & call it a day !!!

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