Rushing info bill is worrying - Kasrils

2011-06-01 22:25

Cape Town - The rush to complete the protection of information bill by the parliamentary committee is worrying and will lead to huge problems and unnecessary tensions in the future, former intelligence minister Ronnie Kasrils said on Wednesday.

"I hate to envisage the unforeseen consequences," he said in a letter sent to Sapa.

"It will certainly undermine public trust in the intelligence and security services at a time when confidence needs to be built.

"Even at this late stage, one would remind our legislators of the adage, 'more haste less speed'," he said.

The issues under discussion were complex and sensitive and it was necessary to ensure the proposed legislation did not undermine the Constitution and Bill of Rights.

Discussions at parliamentary committee stage so far had not inspired public confidence that the issues had been sufficiently canvassed and considered.

"All agree that the outdated 1982 Act must be repealed and that a democratic state has the need to protect sensitive state secrets.

"To this end it is noteworthy that the bill recognises the harm of excessive secrecy," Kasrils said.

However, it was of concern that the proposed legislation was excessively broad and unfocused.

Certain of the penalties (other than that relating to espionage) were consequently extremely harsh, and the crucial need for a "public interest" defence clause was ignored.

The legislation should be primarily concerned with concrete acts which could cause genuine and real national security damage, such as attempts by civil servants to sell state secrets to foreigners or anyone else, the creation of false and deliberately misleading information by civil servants, the wilful identification of secret service employees, and photographs of classified government installations.

"Since freedom of expression is a dearly won principle of our liberation struggle it needs to be treated as sacrosanct outside the narrow national security sphere," he said.

This should allow the public to gain access on a "public interest" argument as a successful way of the media uncovering government incompetence where it might occur.

Tread warily

"In any democratic society worthy of the name there needs to be a clear understanding that government has no right to limit media coverage of stories that are embarrassing - or in the end shown to be only partly true.

"This is why a 'public interest' defence is so crucial to any such security legislation.

"It is for this reason that there needs to be flexibility to protect 'whistleblowers' where a public interest defence is applicable."

Such allowance in the legislation by no means protected those with a mischievous or sinister intent.

Its absence was anathema to freedom of information and of expression.

"It is imperative that this principle be fought for. It is not only a matter of media freedom.

"The requirements of the poor and needy - of those who are cheated by the powerful, the wealthy or the officials who squander the public purse or who fail in service delivery - can only be supported by a free press, by investigative journalism and research, by lively civic organisations."

A pertinent aim of this legislation from its original conception, had been the creation of a system to enable the declassification of masses of government documentation.

The system envisaged was so complicated and so hampered by lack of clarity that government would be creating a bureaucratic nightmare.

"This will act as a regression both from the public right to access information and to freedom of expression.

"Civil society is absolutely correct to ask government to think again and not rush in where angels should warily tread," Kasrils said.

  • Karoobloed - 2011-06-01 23:29

    The old guard of the ANC seems to have most of the common sense. Power seems to be shifting from the educated to the the shrill uneducated. Evolution in reverse.

      saabnut - 2011-06-02 07:19

      Surprising- Kasrils'change of heart. I I remember correctly, he is the very nit that proposed it originally around 2003...

      onetickie - 2011-06-15 07:30

      Just how educated have the educated proved to be. Won't even go down the likes of the jARSE and their uneducated thinking.

  • Guy - 2011-06-01 23:31

    Ronnie, you have helped to create a monster, and now you hope to cram it back into the bottle?

      World Traveler - 2011-06-02 00:00

      One bit of common sense does not make Kasrils a hero. It just shows the great divide between the terrorists of a few years ago and the money-grabbing anc of today. Viva democracy! Viva DA! Get rid of the anc once and for all time at the next elections.

      John Wilderness - 2011-06-02 01:40

      That monster was created by the apartheid government and is still fed today by the anti-black biggering and insults towards black people.

      Krolie - 2011-06-02 07:03

      @John Wilderness. "That monster was created by the apartheid government..." Wouldn't you think that the current government would then rather want to be transparent, else it would "seem" as if they have "something" to hide? Surely they will not be trusted by anyone, and the current scenario in SA will continue? MY WISH IS THAT (not as eloquently put as most bloggers here):- ALL parties should be working TOGETHER towards a well run country where ALL citizens are equally treated, have the same privileges, same education etc. To get to this point, the current government should be doing their bit as well by cutting down on their salaries as a start, and ensuring that all municipalities, hospitals, housing, roads etc are sorted out. The justice system, SAPD etc should be sorted out. Criminals should be punished according to their crime and sentences should be completed. When ALL citizens are treated exactly the same, all this bickering between "black and white" should stop as nobody would be receiving more privileges than the other. Ok, there are people that are plain racists, but the majority of us are not. This perception that we are all racists (black v white) is because we are ALL frustrated because of the lack of service delivery and corruption, and plain stupid decisions taken in this country. Sort that out, and that will lead to prosperity for ALL!

      umlaut - 2011-06-02 07:28

      @@ John in the wilderness---certain blacks are insulting themselves AND other blacks by doing wrong things in the name of politics, we are just confirming it by saying --yes the info bill is an insult to the term democracy and to the sane black people who wants to have a FREE SOCIETY. Withn the info bill you dare not say anything wrong against your masters the anc or you will vanish and no reporter will be able to trace you. Even anc members can be replaced if the anc feels like it and NO QUESTIONS ASKED. This perfect dictatorship in the making is an insult at you BY BLACK PEOPLE.

      Ozymandios - 2011-06-02 07:32

      @John Wildernis. So two wrongs make a right.? So the past government started it so the present can carry on doing it and thats OK? So how does that concpet make things better? If the past government was so wrong in introducing it why has the ANC now decided to embrace this wrong policy? Maybe it's because they have a lot more to hide and in reality are actually worse than the previous "apardheid'government.

      Meanleader - 2011-06-14 13:18 are wasting your time trying to explain any concept of honesty to this wilderness moron . These criminals are intent on doing what they want .mugabe style !!!! Sheep like wilder.....are just voting fodder for the anc ....

      onetickie - 2011-06-15 07:35

      @John Wilderness: Oh please! You must be an ANC supporter. They will blame apartheid into eternity. How many years have the African-Americans has freedom? (its over 200 years) and those who have chosen to stay uneducated caught up in crime, violence and drugs still blame the whites. When a person can take responsibility for their own actions that proves they have evolved.

  • RowRobCk - 2011-06-01 23:53

    Information is power,in another context Einstein said if you think it you can do it,(you just need the right information )but I fear that the rush to get the bill passed is a spite at the press and a way for guvament to retain more power , (they might regret the day they shoot the messenger.) If the intentions were honorable then the public should be the judge of that they can't have it buttered on both sides for example pass a law and then restrict info on its effectiveness . This sounds like the over regulation of public opinion and a sign of weakness , a regime under pressure from within and I agree with Mr Kastrils will lead to futher tension (being bottled up).

  • World Traveler - 2011-06-01 23:56

    Now that is common sense. It is what the opponents of the current anc have been saying all along. Time to stir the pot!

  • The Question - 2011-06-02 00:41

    The IFP, Cosatu and now the former intelligence minister… So many are stepping forward to publicly speak out against rushing the bill through to meet the upcoming deadline, but will the ANC take these concerns to heart and re-think their position? hmmm... now that is the question...

      Jimmy - 2011-06-02 03:27

      Why would they ? There are two principles here - 1) He who has something to hide will hide it (at great speed). 2) If the ANC can complicate something, they will - and do it well.

      saabnut - 2011-06-02 07:21

      And brake that runaway gravy train- wishful thinking...

  • The Question - 2011-06-02 01:14

    And speaking of rushing bills through parliament... why aren’t the ANC this enthusiastic about rushing to pass the long-awaited Protection of Personal Information Bill?

  • Tea party - 2011-06-02 04:01

    The ANC has been highly critical of the media of late, basically dismissing media reports as lies quite often if something negative are published about the ANC. Perhaps the recent Herald/Faku incident is an extreme example, but the media are quite frequently slammed by ANC members. This bill is nothing but an attempt by the ANC to muzzle the media. That's why they are hell bent at rushing an ill conceived bill through to give them much more power to conceal wrongdoings.

  • BigD - 2011-06-02 05:59

    The old NP party did the same thing as the ANC are doing today with the info bill. The bill must be rushed through because the national elections sre coming closer. To muzzel people from showing corruption will show the voters that they are clean.

      Nkgorupo - 2011-06-02 08:13

      There are former NP members within the ANC, whose role is that of policy makers, hence the legislation.

      DW - 2011-06-02 13:59

      Thats right Nkgorupo, blame it on the NP. Always the fathers of apartheid's fault

  • maseratifitt - 2011-06-02 06:37

    There is only one way forward : Maximum transparency. Anything else will be going backwards. If I were the boss, I would open up everything as far as possible and let common sense and justice prevail.

      lordwabbitspam - 2011-06-02 07:09

      Don't be silly, so many government officials have their hand stuck in the cookie jar that the only way they can stay out of jail (or at least in a position near the cookie jar) is to muzzle the media. Corruption, nepotism and incompetance (largely due to nepotism and BEE) are rife. If the general public hear any more of this from the ANC they will lose even more votes, and the ANC will not step quietly off the gravy train. The ANC have been using the race card and cries about apartheid and the evil whites (inciting racial tension) to garner sympathy votes. Unfortuanately for them that will only work for a short while. At the end of the day people are getting tired of being lied to. The real danger to the ANC will have to come from another black party (COPE was a big disapointment) most blacks will not vote for a 'white' party, they have an irrational fear of the return of apartheid mostly fostered by the ANC propaganda/hate machine.

  • nem - 2011-06-02 07:00

    I hope the anc is aware of the after effects,should they remove peoples freedom,,,,Arm yourselves,,,,things are gona get ugly if this bill is passed.

  • sainsaudi - 2011-06-02 07:00

    The results of the Polokwane Conference in which the last democratic principles of the ANC were finally thrown out have begun to bear their rotten fruit. The present ANC leadership, voted into power by the ANCYL and COSATU during this conference has tasted freedom, the freedom to loot the country and enrich themselves. They will not yield power now that they have it. They are going to ensure that they never go out of power, whatever it takes. This Bill is just the beginning of a series of more draconian ones that will make the ANC the supreme and only decision maker. The present leadership has betrayed the ideals and principles of the founders of the ANC. But one day, the people will realise that a country does not run on racist slogans and racist war chants. It will be too late. The seeds of revolution have been planted, and its not the revolution that Malema speaks of. His is one of the heads that will roll.

      paulf - 2011-06-02 07:10

      Well said, I like your post.

      saabnut - 2011-06-02 07:23

      Me too. I just hope and pray I am around to gloat. Vindication may not be healthy, but neither is all the hate- mongering perpetrated by the ANC goons...

      Wow! - 2011-06-02 07:47


      onetickie - 2011-06-15 07:45

      Mad Bob has obviously been their teacher. Hence the to-in and fro-in between the two countries.

  • sasam - 2011-06-02 07:07

    I am aware that the empowered elite brotherhood is a closely knit group and just about everyone there has some dirt on his hands. The proceeds from the arms deal and gautrain for example is shared under more than only a few. Gautrain's excessive costs are such that the opposing bidder withdrew in disgust to leave Bombela with freedom to negotiate. These guys need to protect their interests with the ever rising democratic urge for opening up all these cans of worms.

  • Shorts1 - 2011-06-02 07:14

    Realitically, what I believe that most of us here in South Africa wish to see is a sound, stable, effective, non-racial, forward thinking, transparent government, totally responsible & fully accountable to the citizens of this country, focussing on social upliftment, provision of civilised standards & infrastructure moving ever closer to a much improved quality of life for all. It matters not whether this government, in actually achieving the above, is run by the ANC or the DA, a combination of both or in fact any other political party. Therefore all those voices, irrespective of their backgrounds, beliefs, political leanings, racial classification and positions in society, who call for this type of constructive approach to proper government, should be fully supported.

      Shorts1 - 2011-06-02 07:18

      Apologies. ' Realitically ' should read ' Realistically '. Cold fingers this morning !!!

      Krolie - 2011-06-02 07:58

      @Shorts1. Well put!

      PB - 2011-06-02 08:04

      Spot on!

  • Paul - 2011-06-02 07:26

    Wouldnt expect anything less from the ANC they have alot to hide. When your is as rotten and full of corruption as the ANC you would want to hide as much as possible away from the public.

      msendi - 2011-06-03 15:15

      What is ANC??? Is it a person, people, leaders, Malema, Zuma etc???… I am confused.

  • WiseOwl2 - 2011-06-02 07:42

    The Chinese and like minded investors will love this - When things are hurry, hurry - then you know their is a hidden agenda !!!!

  • ZipZap - 2011-06-02 07:50

    "It will certainly undermine public trust in the intelligence and security services at a time when confidence needs to be built. how do you undermine something that isnt there...... I dont trust anything led by the cANCcer of this land...

  • PB - 2011-06-02 08:02

    The only deduction that any sane person can make is that the ANC is sh&t scared about "someting" being revealed... Why else rushing it? When implemented by the "regime" it was evil, now it is cool?!?!?

  • Nkgorupo - 2011-06-02 08:09

    The ANC just want to protect its corrupt members at all levels of government. The legislation is just another way of ensuring continued milking of state resources by corrupt tenderpreneurs. Period. How can you classify corrupt activities, claiming to be in national interest?

  • - 2011-06-02 09:00

    My comment has been declared top secret and cannot be published.

  • - 2011-06-02 09:15

    The ANC can't wait to get their hands on the rest of the money without anybody knowing about it.

  • vandermerwe.martin - 2011-06-02 12:12

    From members of vision to a (non) leader with a std 4 and a youth leader that can't even cut out a piece of wood, what is going on with the ANC of today?????

  • MasegoMM - 2011-06-02 12:57

    The ANC led government never listens to the public, why do they want to implement this bill when there is so much public outcry? is there anything that they are trying to hide? why why why why why????????????????????????????

  • FrankLee - 2011-06-02 13:26

    This Information Bill is but the first step. Next will be the land grab bill allowing well-connected fat cats to seize land as they wish and then using the information act to silence the lambs. A lot of people are going to lose their lives, especially those on highly desired farms.

  • Profiled - 2011-06-02 14:27

    I do not think f he was still in government, he would have said this!

  • Soothsayer - 2011-06-02 14:38

    Hypocrisyy at its best.It sounds Ronny is narcissistic

  • Musa Khumalo - 2011-06-02 20:37

    What a shame Ronnie, I am glad that you now realise how infectious Bob Robert to the Zuma brigade. You have now smelt the coffee even though its cold, wow!!

  • onetickie - 2011-06-15 07:28

    Ronnie Kasrils you did more than help create the MONSTERS we now have in this country. You can seldom un-train something that has been indoctrinated or left to their own devices for an indeterminate period of time. So you have yourself to blame for a big part of what the ANC is currently up to and what they will do more of in the future.

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