Info bill two steps from becoming law

2012-11-29 22:15

Cape Town - The ANC on Thursday drove final amendments to the protection of state information bill through the National Council of Provinces amid protest, bringing the so-called secrecy bill two steps from becoming law.

In an often raucous debate, State Security Minister Siyabonga Cwele claimed it was the most progressive official secrets legislation worldwide.

The Democratic Alliance countered that it remained reminiscent of a police state.

The amended bill was adopted by 34 votes to 16, and will go back to the National Assembly in the new year, where the ANC majority is likely to pass it with ease.

Opposition parties vowed that if that happened they would ask the Constitutional Court to overturn the legislation, a threat also issued by the Right2Know campaign this week.

DA MP Alf Lees accused the ANC of misleading the public by claiming extensive amendments to the bill had ruled out the possibility of a state official using it to conceal wrongdoing.

"Given the levels of corruption we see in government today it is inevitable that the bill will be used to cover up crime and corruption by those who risk exposure," he said to ANC jeers.

Lees said the bill still imposed excessive prison sentences, raised the spectre of journalists being jailed for espionage and lacked a proper public interest defence clause to protect the media and whistleblowers.

His colleague, Albert Fritz, added that if it had been on law, the recent Sunday Times report on the corruption case against President Jacob Zuma -- based on leaked prosecuting authority information -- would never have seen the light.

"This bill is Stasi-like in its content and design," he charged, referring to the feared former East German secret police.

Cwele said remaining opposition to the bill was the result of a campaign of misrepresentation by the opposition and civil rights activists.

He conceded that the bill lacked a public interest defence, and that its definition of national security as the grounds for classification was wider than that in the apartheid-era legislation it seeks to repeal, the 1982 Protection of Information Act.

But he said the latter was designed to "protect the people", while the new one was motivated by the belief that it was unwise to let ordinary citizens decide whether disclosure would serve the public interest.

"The problem with the public defence clause is the associated risk where any member of the public can decide what is in the public interest, when the head of [an] organ [of state] or courts for instance may be in a better position to objectively weigh up the issues."

The ANC said it was sure the bill would withstand a constitutional challenge.

"You can go to the Constitutional Court, we are waiting for you," the ANC's Teboho Chaane said.

Threat to democracy

The Right2Know Campaign maintains the bill still clashes with the constitutional rights to freedom of information and expression and is likely to lead to over-classification.

Addressing this point, Cwele said these were not absolute rights, but that on the contrary the Constitution recognised the supremacy of security requirements.

"It needs to be emphasised that the rights in our Constitution... are not absolute as they are subject to section 36, which limits these right.

"No such limitation exists on the provisions of chapter 11 pertaining to national security and the security services and their oversight structures."

The minister acknowledged that the bill has become "one of the most talked about pieces of security legislation here and abroad", but insisted the final draft balanced transparency and security.

The bill was introduced in 2010 and triggered a sustained public outcry that forced the ruling party into a staged withdrawal from some of its most regressive provisions.

This week, after coming under renewed pressure from the Congress of SA Trade Unions, the ANC introduced eleventh hour changes that were widely welcomed. It notably re-inserted a clause offering protection against prosecution for those who reveal classified information to expose a crime, despite pressure from Cwele to scrap it.

The party scrapped a clause that would have made the new legislation trump the Promotion of Access to Information Act, and thirdly gave the Public Protector and other chapter nine institutions the right to be in possession of classified information.

But opponents say the bill retains a clear threat to democracy in clauses that make mere possession of a classified document a crime and allow the intelligence structures to operate in obscurity.

  • sipho.zuma.796 - 2012-11-29 22:21

    Its sad that this is allowed to happen. This is like saying, "You know that characteristic of good governance... eh, what's it... Transparency... we'll have none of that in the running of this country"

      fred.murgatroyd - 2012-11-29 22:34

      Anybody out there still doubt that we are fast going down the Zimbabwe road, and in fact we could become a province of the Greater Zimbabwe Ruins. Zuma and Mugabe are both cut from the same cloth.

      chris.summers.3954 - 2012-11-30 00:36

      I have yet to hear a reasonable argument as to why certain things should fall under this bill, ie be considered too secret for consumption by the SA citizens. Let's hear one example of a "thing" our government is involved in, which is so sensitive that the public simply cannot be trusted with it? 100 Years of the ANC fighting against this type of suppression of information leads us up to the ANC embracing the very same Apartheid laws to hide their corrupt dealings. So I wonder, with the ANC embracing Apartheid tactics suppressing the free press, whisteblowers and so on as a matter of course, and the ANC implementing race-based policies such as BEE(EE) etc, where exactly is the difference between them and the NP? Apart from the ineptitude the ANC show when they go about their looting of the state coffers? So we can establish that the ANC of today is very much the retarded brother of the NP of old, same ideology but less brains to implement all those racist ideas effectively. Info Bill, Arms-deal, Nkandla....Shaik, Yengeni, Zuma (pick any one), this country will go the same way that the rest of Africa has gone, flushed down the toilet. All the signs are in place, even bleeding heart liberals such as Clem Sunters are recognizing it and trying to make people aware. The best part however are the pictures of the unwashed masses, who support Zuma Inc to the last regardless of how much he f*&s and robs them blind. I hope you get what you wish for, you deserve it all, Zuma4lyfe

      paul.coetzee1 - 2012-11-30 07:04

      Here is a message to all the corrupt thieves riding the Gravy Train> "Comrades, the cork will barely be out of the champers bottle before this Bill is lying in an in-tray at the Cons Court."

      ian.flack2 - 2012-11-30 07:55

      This gives the Minister of Security so much power that he could actually undermine any (honest) President......

      johan.mostert.967 - 2012-11-30 07:58

      All is not lost, Wikileaks!

  • sipho.zuma.796 - 2012-11-29 22:25

    ANC: "Theyre on to us... how can we keep defrauding and acting in a corrupt manner? Hmmmm... lets pass a law that makes it illegal to disclose our crimes... Brilliant idea! They'll never notice"

      johan.mostert.967 - 2012-11-30 08:13

      No, this bill is actually cool. First the Tolls that united all races against the ANC, now this. The ANC is digging its own grave.

      gift.ndlovu.564 - 2012-11-30 08:19

      At least the Press can now not wright anything bad about our hounarable President anymore.This is another victory for the ANC.

      peter.woods.142 - 2012-11-30 09:31

      @ gift ndlovu, it's the same president whose policies are keeping the masses uneducated which is evident in your inability to spell . So , go share your KFC with him because its only a matter of time before we are rid of this evil man!

      moko.brian - 2012-11-30 10:13

      @PeterWoods, KFC? Make that the Fish and Chip Co. @Gift, do you even know why they so badly want to make this a law? I guess not

  • francois.vanderberg - 2012-11-29 22:30

    What do you expect from a government with a lot of criminals sitting in parliament? The one thing all criminals want is for other people not to know what they are doing...

  • debduplessis - 2012-11-29 22:32

    The ANC will stop at nothing to bully everyone for own selfish gain.... I guess we all going to be arrested again in the fight against extreme oppressors and the sad thing is the voters will be torchured into blindly voting for such arrogance and self serving needs.....

  • mark.a.fysh - 2012-11-29 22:32

    "...motivated by the belief that it was unwise to let ordinary citizens decide whether disclosure would serve the public interest." What makes Cwele and his cohorts think they are anything else?

  • liveby.thesword.1 - 2012-11-29 22:36


      liveby.thesword.1 - 2012-11-29 22:37

      democracy my @ss

  • beverly.young3 - 2012-11-29 22:40

    No different to the NATS....................and thats where it began. Hell and here I thought I voted to make this country a better place. Ah well...........

  • Pete7930 - 2012-11-29 22:44

    They are already corrupt. If u believe anything a politician tells u these days its your own fault. This law will not change anything as they already lie to the public. Proudly SA !

  • maruis.kleynhans - 2012-11-29 22:44

    These corrupt thugs can force this through at the speed of light of late, even thou it been a long time since this ugly thing. But can't resolve the minumin wages till next year, or the vote of no confidence in jz. Or the dali lama's visa. Or to realise the youth league needed to be punished. Or to fix the roof they broke down at a hostel in petoria. Can't even deliver textbooks on time even after how many court orders. Construct n disaster managment center in hluhluwe of which the funding was approved by mr trevor manual back in 2008. Deliver the famous jz spy tapes also after a court order. By the way has it been delivered? There are countless of other cases just like this of schools, clinics, running water, toilets. To get back to the point, if this bill go through I recon jz's new crib would end up looking vegas.

  • Prince Kgwale - 2012-11-29 22:46

    Come 2014 they'll feel it in the ballot box.

      lovenergy - 2012-11-29 23:05

      I wish we could cast our vote in 2013

      Thebigguyjim - 2012-11-30 07:25

      From your keyboard to god's ears.

      gary.guy.507 - 2012-11-30 08:43

      Prince, I wish u were right but I somehow doubt it ... "there are none so blind as those who will not see".

  • lovenergy - 2012-11-29 23:04

    Don't worry ANC, we are all watching you. Maybe its time South Africans start reaching out to the World again to let people know about what is happening here before its too late

  • Montagnes.Bleues - 2012-11-29 23:06

    Tragically, this is the first blatant declaration of war against it's own citizens! As the youth and the rest of civil society start to feel the oppression enforced on them, they will resort to unimaginable violence and destruction, the likes of which the ANC has never experienced yet, Marikana being a pleasant "starter" on the list of the presented menus. You can hide in bunkers and mansions built across the Waterkloof Ridge but you cannot escape!

  • nico.dejongh.90 - 2012-11-29 23:08

    A communistic plot to control and owes everything or a dictator's dream comes true.

  • thebe.motshwadira - 2012-11-29 23:12

    DASO won elections at nmmu 2nd time in a row this year, nmmu is a black majority university. DA should target the youth, we see what's going on

      esther.badenhorst - 2012-11-30 09:06

      And the youth can educate the parents

  • michael.morreira - 2012-11-29 23:14

    ANC should have passed this law before passing the renovation plans for Nkandla. Stupid! Now the ANC won't have to make excuses anymore, they won't have to deliver those text books. They should have thought of this sooner. Shoo now they won't even have to hussle us tax payers! Well done masterplan ANC!! Winner

  • ed.jacobs.50 - 2012-11-29 23:20

    Can the Info Bill silence members of the public or the IEC when corruption is expected or suggested during an election(s)?

      Sally Lewitt - 2012-11-30 00:01

      Good question Ed!

      grant.hide - 2012-11-30 01:08

      Whats the point, it would be secret to say.

  • xoliswa.mbayise - 2012-11-29 23:23

    S36 of the constitution limits the rights of the citizens subject to the five factors listed in this section! This bill is uncostitutional finish and klaar,damnit I will never vote,they will never see my vote

      Sally Lewitt - 2012-11-29 23:46

      Agree with you, this is very disgusting indeed and a feeling of dread descends upon us! Most definitely NOT a democracy.. What are they thinking..?

      grant.hide - 2012-11-30 01:13

      Every Vote counts, somehow, I hope. Just vote for change, rather than sit back and let them rob us blind (pun intended).

  • dee.bone.39 - 2012-11-29 23:24

    so finally. Our whole liberation has been completely hijacked and we are back to the National Party. So many of our camrades dead for this. I blame the nats. They starved us of good education and the ANC perperuated it by keeping our people in the dark by maintaing pathetic education service delivery. They even went as far as putting an idiot in power. That's how arrogant they are the bunch of criminals. We can forget about kgalema winning as he is probably to dignified to allow this to happen to the people of south africa. I dont blame the electorate as they dont know better and will continue to vote Zuma. *uck you national Party. Your greed caused this

      Sally Lewitt - 2012-11-29 23:37

      hello.. where have you been for 18 and a half years..?

  • jason.ja.355138 - 2012-11-29 23:30

    Well it seems the only way to curb any of this is to form a fiscal revolution! Without the taxpayers money there can be no corruption right? If strikers can down tools for higher wages, often turning violent, then we as law abiding citizens should invest our taxes in a nationwide trust with a responsible elected trustee who will in turn pay for services honestly and properly rendered. Adopt an attitude of 'no work no pay'. Surely we hold the power irrespective of our elected government!? I know I never voted for my money to be squandered by thieves. Ironic it is, that the majority of our population are non tax payers and yet get to vote on how government spends it!? This is void of any common sense! As long as we keep paying, the uneducated will be content to sit and learn nothing, the jobless will sit and do nothing, the entitled will always have a hand out for more more more. This is a lunatic fringe and anarchy is rife! There needs to be governance, not a constant 'movement' to dis empower. This Country of ours has never seen a democracy in play. Removing the bad past and replacing it with an even worse future is not democracy, whomever you hold responsible for that past! I cannot digest the bitter pill that 200 odd, previously displaced cadres can rule for a nation. Black, white, coloured or Indian makes no difference here! Everyone is being conned, and worst of all, the majority voters who so blindly follow their 'struggle heroes' are and always be the worst off!

      Sally Lewitt - 2012-11-30 00:00

      right Jason.ja. Where do we as Tax Payers who carry this pathetic nation and get blamed for the PAST sign up and lets get your show on the road asap..

      Sally Lewitt - 2012-11-30 00:10

      Please read zmvulane's comment above, we all may not have a full understanding of the realities of this info bill and the constitution..

  • zmvulane - 2012-11-29 23:39

    The statement by DA MP Alf Lees that it is inevitable that the bill will be used to cover up crime and corruption by those who risk exposure is factually incorrect and misleading. Clause 47 of the Bill criminalises the classification of state information to conceal breaches of the Prevention and Combating of Corrupt Activities Act. Clause 43 strengthens this provision by give an explicit defence for anyone who discloses and is in possession of classified state information to expose wrong doing.

      Sally Lewitt - 2012-11-29 23:50

      And so we descend into the cesspool of being a 'police state' if not worse..

      zmvulane - 2012-11-30 00:00

      @sally.lewitt, not at all. It's also important to note that ordinary members of the SAPS and SADF are excluded from classfying state informatio. In fact, the Bill in clause 43 provides comprehensive defence for people who expose wrong doing.

      Sally Lewitt - 2012-11-30 00:03

      Thank you for the heads up..

      Deon de Lange - 2012-11-30 00:58

      @Sally and @Mvulane: while the bill does build in protection against both wrongful classification and public interest disclosure, this is nullified by the fact that it trumps PAIA (the Promotion of Access to Information Act) and that heads of state organs can simply get permission from the State Security Minister - who in this case has shown himself to lean heavily in favour on non-disclosure - to classify. The result being that even when information is classified to hide corruption or prevent embarrassment, there is simply no way of knowing. It's simply a bad Bill that errs way too far on the side of secrecy - particularly in a Constitutional State that includes public access to information as one of its founding principles.

      zmvulane - 2012-11-30 06:10

      @Deon de Lange, that's not true! Clause 1(4) was deleted in the amendments that were proposed by the NCOP!

      dee.bone.39 - 2012-11-30 07:21

      and that is why the media is over the moon about whats going on. Not

      johan.mostert.967 - 2012-11-30 08:08

      "Clause 47 of the Bill criminalises the classification of state information to conceal breaches of the Prevention and Combating of Corrupt Activities Act." But if it is classified as a state secret, who will decide if it is 'to conceal breaches of the Prevention and Combating of Corruption activities?' The ANC will, the ones doing the corruption.

  • donker.heerden - 2012-11-30 01:13

    This is such bull crap, noone will be free, what was the whole problem with apartheid then if we get limited once again, they can commit crimes and make false promises to people who belive in a better future and again gets disipointed and get away with murder yet they wana run a country..... Epic fail

  • ryan.a.smith.3958 - 2012-11-30 01:24


  • ryan.a.smith.3958 - 2012-11-30 01:27

    just the fact that the ANC tried to pass the bill in its even more Nazi form (before the redrafts) proves what their motives are. they were trying to get away with as much as they could.

  • ryan.a.smith.3958 - 2012-11-30 01:28

    when last was there anything leaked that genuinely jeoparidized national security ... like never ... so why this bill ? we know why !!!

  • pawel.poniatowski.3 - 2012-11-30 02:34

    then everythign will be just good news every day, imagine that... no crime, no corruption, no killings, no rape, no spending irregularities.... no anything, just happy meals and school events

  • Gert van Coller - 2012-11-30 02:43

    Well done comrades! One step closer to the demise of the cANCer!

  • siyabonga.phungula1 - 2012-11-30 03:14

    nothing new here every major western nation has such laws. why are there no revelations on osama killing in america, obama' s administration was promised to be the most transparent.

      dee.bone.39 - 2012-11-30 06:59

      every western nation robbing the country and driving it into its m**r by 1 party rule. Not

  • siyabonga.phungula1 - 2012-11-30 03:16

    do you think cia, m16 etc are operating in the public eye?

      nicolajane.harrison.3 - 2012-11-30 06:39

      The cia and mi6 are organisations, not the government, they work under the government

      Zahir - 2012-11-30 07:35

      First research about the bill then comment

      vandeventer.sarel - 2012-11-30 07:36

      And i stil cant call u stupid for voting anc!!! Hahahahaha!!!!!

      vandeventer.sarel - 2012-11-30 07:38

      And i stil cant call u stupid for voting anc!!! Hahahahaha!!!!!

      JamesMWood - 2012-11-30 08:22

      An M16 is a weapon, MI6 on the other hand is the intellegnce secotr, something you and the ANCants are lacking in

      siyabonga.phungula1 - 2012-11-30 20:52

      and you think you are intelligent? lol

  • allan.rosenberg.752 - 2012-11-30 04:42

    Nkandla gets some security additions - a hospital, theatre, school, airport, soccer stadium etc. I doubt this would happen but let's say it did, would we be able to ask where the money came from and see any form report as a law abiding citizen.

  • vernon.samuel.7 - 2012-11-30 05:08

    ANC two elections from becoming the official opposition

  • brionyl.french - 2012-11-30 05:17

    Sadly if we all wont be silenced then what they gonna do? Throw us all in prison for speaking the truth, for discovering the truth? When our prisons are over crowded and they dont seem keen on infrastructure to build more. IDIOTS!

  • adriaan.kroon.1 - 2012-11-30 05:23

    South Zimbabwe here we come!

  • dragonfire47 - 2012-11-30 05:41

    Toot toot all anc thieving politicions all aboard the gravy express

  • Earl O Tool - 2012-11-30 05:52


  • peter.jordaan.5 - 2012-11-30 06:07

    The ANC has lost the plot. The citizens of the country are to be served by the government. Government is there to provide services on a collective basis that would better serve it citizens. A good example is roads, street lighting, education facilities and so on. By doing these things there is no need for secrecy. But the ANC see it differently, they think that the citizens are there for their pleasure and that they have a right to use and abuse. This convuleted and backward thinking and frankly anti society. It is the thinking in a police state. All police states around the world are collapsing. The world is shunning them. Ask Russia. It is being shunned and ridiculed from every angle. It is being forced to change to be accepted in the world. Now if their policies were so good then howcome this is happening? Can this last, no way. Will it bring about widevspread distrust of the AFRICAN NATIONAL CORRUPTION. You bet. In the end the ANC will go do down in the history books as the most corrupt most lying most deceitful most citizen abusing party in Africa. Some legacy. Something to be proud off ANC.

  • peter.mokoena.31 - 2012-11-30 06:22

    Back to apartheid, the only difference is being voted in by majority and the opressed themselves, most of them clueless..

  • frans.visserdsb - 2012-11-30 06:26

    I am still trying to figure out why we need such a bill? is transparency not a sign of good governance? You only want to hide stuff when you are doing something wrong.... We don't have enemies who are spying on us in order to invade us?

      dragonfire47 - 2012-11-30 07:13

      If the west is considered an enemy I wish they would get on with it, would love Nato to save us from the real enemy called the anc

      esther.badenhorst - 2012-11-30 08:10

      The public is the enemy, to greedy politicians.

  • ian.huntly - 2012-11-30 06:39

    And the difference between the police state under the NP and the police state under the ANC is ??? I give up, can not find it.

  • Leah - 2012-11-30 06:41

    Hear all evil, see all evil; but do not speak of it.

  • sean.sylvester.9 - 2012-11-30 06:42

    Seems like the ANC has things they want to hide and don't want to let out how can ppl vote for a stupid party like that

  • erns.kleynhans.3 - 2012-11-30 06:49

    The ANC is digging their own grave. Come 2014, its time for real change for everyone.

      nicolajane.harrison.3 - 2012-11-30 06:56

      Do u think that will actually happen? Ppl who vote for them are clueless, they vote for them yet their situation never changes,it seems the anc just doesn't give a sh#t! The clueless leading the clueless!

  • Michael Kleber - 2012-11-30 06:57

    once the bill is in place the ANC can plunder the state coffers with impunity , had it been in place nkandla would not be in the public eye not to mention all the other corruption that is happening daily , i think zuma will be remembered as the corruption king

  • Lucky - 2012-11-30 07:01

    Bunch of F!@#$ing hypocrites...freedom my gat!!

  • bcluley - 2012-11-30 07:02

    Now i think its.time for some right wingers to enter.

  • arthur.salvado - 2012-11-30 07:04

    This is a full license to hide the arms deal, e-toll and to rob us blind without having to account for certainly can't be to protect sensitive military secrets. We don't even have anyone in the navy that can operate our submarines , without crashing them that is. Bunch of outright thieves and Zuma walks free. Is there an African spring on the way ?

      dragonfire47 - 2012-11-30 07:10

      Military secrets, a country needs to have a defence force to have some form of military, that too has been destroyed, reported yesterday that they are hovering on bankruptcy

  • jannielr - 2012-11-30 07:10

    Dammit. Now we will never know how exactly to shower to prevent getting HIV. I still wanted to learn so much from Zuma...

  • Tshephangsithole - 2012-11-30 07:19

    This law is aimed at protecting JZ from all his corrupt activities, This ppl knw hw to play their game. I so hate them.

  • basil.clifford - 2012-11-30 07:19

    No, you see, chaps, the (censored) want to have the (censored) passed so that (censored) don't get to read about (censored). You see. Its (censored). Don't you just love (censored).

  • mokaikana - 2012-11-30 07:20

    Do you know that once this bill is made law we the people of SA will never uncover corruption in the government? And example is the Nkandla, if the bill was made law we would never have known.

  • Zahir - 2012-11-30 07:27

    The anc has a lot of dodgy deals to bury deep arms deal, etolls, etc more to follow