We will fight info bill: Mazibuko

2011-11-22 21:06

Cape Town - The National Assembly approved the controversial protection of state information bill on Tuesday despite widespread opposition and question marks around its constitutionality.

The bill was adopted by majority vote after a division was called by the opposition Democratic Alliance, and passionate objections were raised by opposition parties.

Democratic Alliance parliamentary leader Lindiwe Mazibuko said her party would continue the fight for incisive amendments in the second house.

If that process failed to produce a new version, she would petition President Jacob Zuma not to sign the bill, but to send it back to Parliament.

"But if this bill is signed into law, I will lead an application to the Constitutional Court to have the act declared unconstitutional," Mazibuko vowed.

The IFP warned that the legislation would lead the ANC to lose its legitimacy for opposing the popular will.


Congress of the People leader and former ANC minister Mosiuoa Lekota said the African National Congress would, like the apartheid state, suffer the shame of jailing journalists and whistleblowers who alerted the public to wrongdoing.

"I shudder to think that the men and women who say that money is being stolen will be locked up in the name of the African National Congress," he shouted to loud applause from the opposition benches and a packed public gallery.

Most opposition parties present in the House proceeded to vote against the legislation, while hundreds of black-clad activists protested against it outside the gates of Parliament and elsewhere in the country.

The outcome of the vote was 229 in favour and 107 against in the 400-member House. There were two abstentions.

The bill still has to be approved by the National Council of Provinces next year.

Like the opposition, media organisations, activists and ANC ally Cosatu have demanded that the bill be redrafted, and have vowed to challenge it in the Constitutional Court if it is signed into law in its current form.

Public interest

All insist that the bill should include a public interest defence, as enshrined in state secrecy legislation in Canada.

Such a defence would enable journalists and others who published classified information under pain of prison to argue in mitigation that they had done so in the public interest.

State Security Minister Siyabonga Cwele reiterated last week that the ANC would not countenance such "reckless practice".

The bill criminalises possession and publication of classified information and punishes the latter with up to 25 years’ in prison, if espionage is involved.

It was drafted to replace apartheid-era legislation dating from 1982, but critics say it marks a shameful return to excessive state secrecy less than two decades into democratic rule.

The editors of 18 daily news publications said in a joint editorial on Tuesday that it was "the first piece of legislation since the end of apartheid that dismantles an aspect of our democracy".

  • phathuchicos - 2011-11-22 21:14

    count me in mazibuko...

      Impi - 2011-11-22 21:21

      Me too.

      Gary - 2011-11-22 22:13

      You can enforce all the Protection laws you want Mr. Government, but you can’t hide from God Almighty. You will eventually get overthrown like the past unjust apartheid regime that failed to look after the poor. So you will be dethroned, because of your injustice to the poor by stealing and abusing the taxes to fatten your greed. History repeats itself over and over again, is just a matter of time.

      Gerhard - 2011-11-22 22:44

      @Gary, Amen brother!!!

  • pws69 - 2011-11-22 21:15

    Why the info bill is so important to the ANC: national resolution – apparently adopted five years ago by the premiers of all nine provinces – means that no action can be taken against civil servants found to have illegally helped themselves to social grants, says a report in The Mercury. Instead, the stolen amounts have been converted into loans, which the officials repay without incurring interest or penalties, and no legal action is taken against them. The report notes this policy had apparently been adopted at a meeting of premiers about five years ago after it transpired that, nationally, 45,000 civil servants had stolen grants. [So, it emerges, the political leadership secretly condoned widespread corruption in the public service. But then, if they had prosecuted them, how would they have explained the quiet let-off granted to all those ANC MPs who corruptly misappropriated their parliamentary travel allowances?]

      Shoe - 2011-11-22 21:39

      Asking why the info bill is so important to the ANC is like asking why the fig leaves were so important to Adam and Eve.

      Jerry - 2011-11-22 21:46

      I'm not sure I follow you pws69. Are you saying that the ANC is passing this bill to perpetuate corruption? Or are you saying that they're doing it to cover up these and any future legal transgressions?

      Mark - 2011-11-22 21:59

      Both, I would think, Jerry. Stealing from the former oppressors is, after all, not considered as theft by some and condoned by others.

      Impi - 2011-11-22 22:08

      @Rustic. I'm pleased you brought this up. It is indeed the general mentality that we are only taking back what should have been ours to start with. That I believe it is just an excuse to justify the theft going on by all in government and even worse in the municipal councils. This begs the question, when all has been stolen and looted, how will our country be rated by the international investment market?

      Jack - 2011-11-22 23:37

      So in the end civil servants will have to repay 25billion over prolonged periods. Because it now is a secret I can not tell you who my source is.

      PyroSA - 2011-11-23 13:27

      @ekfeugo - Don't confuse cheap borderline gossip with actual news. If you cannot back up the story it becomes slander which is just as dangerous. Even if these laws aren't officially enforced, they can still be used to threaten journo's and whistleblowers enough to not persue the truth in the first place.

  • Jenni - 2011-11-22 21:19

    best news of the day - my mood has lifted slightly

  • Moss - 2011-11-22 21:19

    Yada yada!!

  • Da - 2011-11-22 21:48

    we are behind you Lindiwe, as Citizens of this country we have a right to know and right to pay tax to support corrupt politicians

  • Craig - 2011-11-22 21:54

    The more voices raised against this bill, the better. You go girl.

  • Kevern Upton - 2011-11-22 21:55

    Good for you DA, just that a well placed ANC constitutional judge will perhaps see the act prevail as law, there is after all a reason ANC has ignored such a broad spectrum of opposition with impunity, perhaps they hold the trump card..... GOD help us all.

  • Sydney Matubandlela - 2011-11-22 22:09

    dream on tea girl...

      Impi - 2011-11-22 22:28

      This "tea girl" will be your first female President.

      Observer - 2011-11-22 22:32

      Spoken like a true fascist...hey..I think I hear your train pulling out for Zimbabwe. Understand this me bucko...this land was never given up and we won't let some ill mannered, undisciplined, greedy, lazy and corrupt under achievers ever drag this country down...the outcome is already predetermined. I see you and your ilk either " emigrating" or taking advantage of the Republic's hospitality at Pollsmoor....have it any way you like it. Egypt can why do you think any of you will win. You are either with the people or against them, and we know where you stand now....

      malcolm.molver - 2011-11-22 22:46

      She could well be the first female president. Today we may have witnessed the ANC signing its own death certificate, and we could see a situation similar to Tunisia and Egypt occurring sometime in the future. Thereafter, Mazibuko may well become president.

  • theO rAcLe - 2011-11-22 22:16

    ANC even select the Judges they want within the constitutional court, so we are stuffed as far as this goes, only way is to protest

  • Sassenach - 2011-11-22 22:17

    I am trying to think up an ulterior motive as to why the ANC persists with this stupid bill. Could it just be that Zoomo is going to polish his marble and withdraw it at the last minute to gain a vote or two - watch this space

  • Craig Botha - 2011-11-22 22:19

    Can anyone explain where the other 62 MP's were? That is 15% of parliament absent ...

  • Cheryl - 2011-11-22 22:25

    Lets overthrow the AFC - AFRICAN FRAUDULENT CONGRESS...they have finally gone too far.

  • Travis - 2011-11-22 22:28

    Kill the BILL

  • Peter - 2011-11-22 22:35

    Good fight it to the end.We dont need this in our country!!!

  • Mantsho - 2011-11-22 23:27

    Good luck my future President.

  • nikki.bodenstein - 2011-11-23 20:42

    DA all the way. Time for change!

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