Info bill not targeting media - Cwele

2011-11-16 20:33

Cape Town - The media is not the target of a controversial new secrecy bill that critics fear could prevent exposure of official wrongdoing, the state security minister said on Wednesday.

"This bill is not about regulating the media. There is no single mention of the media in this bill," Siyabonga Cwele told Parliament.

"Neither is this bill about covering up corruption," he added.

Media groups, watchdogs and opposition lawmakers have condemned the protection of information bill saying it could silence whistleblowing and investigative reporting.

The bill, of passed, would make it illegal to hold or disclose sensitive information, with jail terms of up to 25 years.

Changes to the bill after a public outcry had been "a correct response to the concerns," Cwele said.

The legislation was intended to overhaul outdated apartheid law and address threats of espionage, he added.

But Cwele ruled out a public interest defence that would protect disclosure of classified information if a court deemed it to be in society's best interest.

"The fact is that the 'secrecy bill' amounts to a full-scale legislative assault on the freedom of the press and other media in South Africa," said DA MP David Maynier.

The bill criminalises the possession and disclosure of classified material even if the documents expose wrongdoing and if exposure would serve the public interest, he said.

"So the question is not whether journalists will go to jail, but which journalist will go to jail first," he added.

The bill is expected to be put to the vote next week after the ruling ANC held back in September, saying more time was needed for input.

However the Right 2 Know campaign, which opposes the bill, said this week that "no public consultations have been conducted" and that promises by the ANC chief whip had been "utterly empty".

  • Mark - 2011-11-16 21:08

    Mr. Cwele, you have no shame!

      John - 2011-11-17 21:04

      Was Mac Maharaj 1 of the 3 south african communists which went to Moscow before 1994, and were told that communist central control economies do not work? Mac Maharaj quoted numbers from the Soviet Propaganda Book, and the russians laughed and explained to him that all the numbers in the Book were FALSE? How can Mac Maharaj carry on as a communist and a member of the ANC = Association of National Criminals, Abortion Murder Genocide? The russians have dropped the National Democratic Revolution! The chinese have dropped the National Democratic Revolution! The indians have dropped the National Democratic Revolution! What is wrong with Mac Maharaj? Has he been brainwashed? Who were the other communists? Anybody remembers?

  • JudithNkwe - 2011-11-16 21:18

    Is he for real? It is obvious he has no idea of what he is doing

  • Cracker - 2011-11-16 22:28

    PLEASE, all politicians or securitats or secretats, We do not need secrets between the general population and the high-and-mighty. You may today think you are part and parcel of the high-and-mighty but tomorrow you may be nothing. REALLY, WHAT IS SO DIFFICULT TO GRASP ABOUT IT? It includes the DA who seem also hell-bent on supporting the secrecy establishment. THERE IS NO SECRET WORTH KEEPING IF IT IS NOT FOR THE PURPOSE TO F.CK OTHERS. Now let's get honest!!!

  • Mark - 2011-12-14 06:46

    Why does everything have to be about Apartheid ? FFS ?

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