access to information

Call for Secrecy Bill to be Scrapped

The Nelson Mandela Centre for Memory has called for the Protection of State Information Bill to be withdrawn and redrafted.

Verne Harris, the director of the centre's archive, says the Bill remains unconstitutional despite amendments made at the last minute before it was passed by Parliament in April.

He says one of its fundamental flaws is that it sought to set up a regime of dealing with state information that ran parallel to that envisaged in the Constitution and the progressive Promotion of Access to Information Act (PAIA).

Equal opportunities for the Youth of South Africa: How Much has Changed Since 1994?

As I write this, I am having a drink with my colleague Nick Owsley, a graduate with an Honours Degree in Politics, Philosophy and Economics from the University of Cape Town. With Human Rights Day approaching I cannot help but think how fortunate our generation is. A mere 18 years ago in South Africa it was regarded as breaking the law for a black person to have a drink with a white person in many watering holes - how far we have come since then.

Obscuring the ‘Key Point’

When the South African Minister of Public Works, Thulas Nxesi, sought to withhold information to the public about his department’s expenditure of over R200 million on renovations to the President’s private residence, he reached for the National Key Points Act. Similarly, when the Chair of the parliamentary Portfolio Committee on Correctional Services, Vincent Smith, sought to justify the destruction of photographs of warders beating a prisoner, who later died, he too resorted to the National Key Points Act.

Centres Empowered to Promote Development

The United Nations (UN) in Namibia held a workshop with several regions in Windhoek, which was aimed at staff and volunteers of multi-purpose community centres.

The workshop was aimed at equipping participants with hands-on experience in finalising the mission statements and management structures for their centres.

It was also aimed at expanding the knowledge, practice and to provide access to information in multiple formats to rural communities.

Endorse the Journalist's Declaration on the Protection of State Information Bill

We hear a lot from government, civil society and the editors forum about various threats to media freedom in South Africa. But until now the voice of working journalists has been relatively silent. Now a few concerned journalists are getting organised and have prepared a Declaration on the Protection of State Information Bill.

They are calling on all journalists working in the community, public and commercial media to add their names to the statement.

Here is the Declaration:

Journalist Declaration on the Protection of State Information Bill

R2K, FXI Launch Access to Information Campaign

As part of the Human Rights Day celebrations, Right to Know (R2K) and the Freedom of Expression Institute (FXI) have launched a new access to information campaign in Sebokeng, south of Johannesburg.

Gauteng R2K spokesperson, Dale McKinley, states that information such as the right to housing, health, education, service delivery and clean environment is important and most South Africans at grassroots levels do not know how to access it.

SANEF Criticises the New Secret Bill

The South African National Editors Forum (SANEF) has warned that a new version of the Protection of Information Bill before Parliament is more restrictive in terms of handling of State information than the previous proposed law.

SANEF deputy chairperson, Henry Jeffreys, says that at the time of the withdrawal, it was pledged that ‘a large amount of work’ will be done to improve the bill, but that this is not reflected in the new draft.

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