Speaker alerted to bill complaints - protector

2011-11-22 19:10

Johannesburg - Public Protector Thuli Madonsela has submitted a summary of the main complaints her office received on the protection of state information bill to the Speaker of Parliament.

There was nothing else she could do at the moment, she said on Talk Radio 702 on Tuesday.

"Unfortunately there wasn't much I could do because my jurisdiction is maladministration... and here we are still talking about it [the law being passed] in Parliament," she said.

The National Assembly approved the bill on Tuesday afternoon.

Complaints to the protector included those from the National Press Club, the Institute for Accountability in Southern Africa, the Right2Know campaign, the Jewish Board of Deputies and Talk Radio 702 morning host John Robbie.

Madonsela said her team had prepared a summary of what had been received and had alerted the Speaker that there were serious concerns about, above all, a public interest clause.

"People who made submissions couldn't understand what we could lose as South Africa if a public interest defence was included in this bill," she told talkshow host Jenny Crwys-Williams.

She felt the government had a valid argument in terms of protecting state security.

"... But there is equally a compelling situation that democracy belongs to all of us and we all play different roles in upholding democracy."

One of those roles was to make people in public power accountable, and in a country with a population of 50 million the only way was through the media and public dialogue.

"If it's not going to be possible to have a dialogue on public life, that's going to be a problem."

She cautioned against assuming that "waving" a public interest defence meant that there was a public interest cause.

Judges had handled that defence with circumspection and had always balanced it with the need to protect state security and a proper functioning state.

  • Anneleen - 2011-11-22 19:30

    ...Government, the truth you cannot will always stare you in the face...and you will see that silence is most certainly not golden...

      Richard - 2011-11-22 20:42

      True but the media needs to own up to their role in this attack on press freedom. In large part the government's attack on freedom of the press and of information came about as a reaction to the incompetent, defamatory gutter journalism of a couple of major newspapers. One wonders if there was a deliberate political strategy in some of the false "expose's" we have seen. By the time a retraction and apology is forced, the damage to the politician is done. It was irresponsible journalism and in a big way it has contributed to where we find ourselves today, with the government trying to gag the media. I completely oppose the POIB and I'm all for investigative journalists uncovering corruption and holding politicians to account, but the number of blatant lies and sensationalist false accusations that have been printed in our mainstream media over the last few years has been shocking, and extremely damaging to our democracy.

      alansmartSnr - 2011-11-22 22:55

      @ Richard.. I like to believe that I'm reasonably well informed but u got me stumped there.. Please give examples of "the lies" and "disinformation" that the media has given. Even if you could give me a single shaky example the Auditor General recently stated that the total amount of "unaccounted money" for which the Government and it's agencies were responsible exceded more than R892 Billion Rand in corruption and plain theft cases. That is excluding the corruption which the Scorpion's and now the hawks investigated AND GOT CONVICTIONS FOR. 85% of these cases were as a result of "Investigative Journalism" and of course whistle blowers. It's also, to my mind the reason why Zuma allowed the "Arms deal" investigation to re-open. I can imagine him saying to Mac " Man, don't worry. We will just see to it that come Hell or High water, we'll pass that bill and then just declare null and void cos it's declared a state secret. Jeez, what a bunch of corrupt, thieving and unscrupulous people running this country... but thank God for a Constitutional Court.

  • phathuchicos - 2011-11-22 19:33

    It's too late...the top dogs finally managed to silence the country from their ill-governance.

      barry.mcbride - 2011-11-22 19:54

      What exactly to you mean by “too late” when it’s not a law yet but if such was the case, it’d then be up to the constitutional court?

      Anton - 2011-11-22 20:09

      Zuma has not yet signed the bill for promulgation purposes. It's possible that Madonsela can get him to *apply his mind*, and reconsider. Doubtful though, but we'll see.

      Godfrey - 2011-11-22 20:52

      @Azanian I am with you, JZ has been silence, made the necessary judicial appointments to ensure no drama going forward. The Public Protector and her dept. will be without a job soon, except for investigating DA run province and municipalities.

      Alva - 2011-11-22 23:36

      Zuma will sign the bill. He stands to gain. The arms deal don't be re-opened.

      Jerhone - 2011-11-23 08:06

      to Anton he's got a mind?

  • Power - 2011-11-22 19:46

    Who is going to decide what is security or not ??? The Weapons Scandal with submarines rusting. Who got the money ? Is that security or not ??

      Craig - 2011-11-22 21:33

      Ah... nice try. The goverment won't tell you, 'cos it is a secret !!!

  • sefeddt - 2011-11-22 20:26

    Ironically if this bill was in place when Zuma was under investigation his defense team would have faced arrest as they used classified albeit illegally obtained tapes to motivate that his prosecution was political.

      Refilwe IronMan Rakoma - 2011-11-23 02:32

      No they would not, they would have to bring the records to a state official, who in his case would be the judge, then judge would show the evidence to the NPA and ask them that given the evidence would they like to drop the charges, then case dismissed. The tricky part is whether the court decides if the tapes should be played over and over again on national radio and to the international public so that they can hear what fabrications our beloved Scorpion where constructing. Make sense? In matter where the common sense does fail I recommend not having everything a black man suggests, we are smarter than you after all.

      IAmTheDarkPrince - 2011-11-23 09:32

      If Refilwe were any less literate we'd have to place him near sunlight and water him twice a week.

  • Philip - 2011-11-22 20:44

    The government is behaving like a bunch of naughty kids where the public has to keep them in check. Actually it should be the other way around. Now the kids locked themselves in their room.........

  • Richard - 2011-11-22 21:04

    Did Wikileaks cause this?

      Refilwe IronMan Rakoma - 2011-11-23 02:24

      Ah Richard a sensable person. Yes I also suspect its Wikilead, America, Britain and other country have also made small amendments to their existing info bills. But our sentences are quite harsh, they should decrease them.

  • Faan - 2011-11-22 21:17

    Stop stealing from our country - that's all we ask. Whatever you do - do it for the poor.

  • Alva - 2011-11-22 23:34

    This bill is also meant to silence the public protector. Whistleblowers will be punished!

  • Jerhone - 2011-11-23 08:05

    it's all very well to talk about a constitutional court, but Zuma has already placed his head snake in charge of that, the only way is to take it to the streets, as the doobie brothers said

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