Secrecy Bill

Secrecy Bill

  • Petition the President: Stop the Secrecy Bill!

    Parliament has passed the Secrecy Bill (the Protection of State Information Bill) and now President Zuma must apply his mind in considering signing it into law.

    The Right2Know Campaign calls on all freedom-loving South Africans and democrats across the world to contact President Zuma and appeal to him to stop the Secrecy Act and either return the Bill to Parliament for redrafting, or send it directly to the Constitutional Court for review.

    You can send the following e-mail to the President at and the President’s Spokesperson at

    Be sure to copy in


    Dear President Zuma,

    I am writing to you to call on you to not sign the Secrecy Bill (the Protection of State Information Bill) into law. I call on you to either return the Bill to Parliament for redrafting, or send it directly to the Constitutional Court for review. 

    The reasons for my objection to the Bill are listed below – these are concerns I share with thousands of other people who have united to form the Right2Know Campaign:

    • We demand a just and limited classification law that promotes our Constitutional rights. The current Secrecy Bill undermines our freedom of expression and right to access information guaranteed in the Constitution.
    • We demand a full Public Interest Defence. The current Secrecy Bill only has narrow protection for whistleblowers and public advocates that excludes a range of matters in the public interest like shady tendering practices or improper appointments within key state agencies.
    • We demand full whistleblower protection. Under the current Secrecy Bill a whistleblower, journalist or activist who discloses a classified record with the purpose of revealing corruption or other criminal activity may be prosecuted under the “espionage” and other offences not covered by the proposed Public Interest Defence.
    • Don’t criminalise the public as spies. In the current Secrecy Bill people can be charged with “espionage”, “receiving state information unlawfully” (to benefit a foreign state), and “hostile activity” without proof that the accused intended to benefit a foreign state or hostile group or prejudice the national security; only that the accused knew or “ought reasonably to have known” that this would be a “direct or indirect” result.
    • Limit the Bill to to the security agencies. The current Secrecy Bill still gives powers of the Minister of State Security to give classification powers to other state bodies (and junior officials) without adequate public consultation.
    • Include a Public Domain Defence. The current Secrecy Bill effectively criminalising the population at large. When classified information becomes public it is no longer a secret. Rather than holding those responsible for keeping secrets accountable, the current Bill punishes anyone who accesses information once it has been leaked into the public domain.
    • Reduce draconian sentences. The current Secrecy Bill still contains draconian sentences of up to 25 years in jail. These are out of line with international practice and will have a chilling effect on anyone in possession of information in the public interest.
    • Don’t undermine the Promotion of Access to Information Act (PAIA). The procedure in the current Bill permitting applications for the declassification of classified information is in conflict with the PAIA – despite commitments from Parliament to the contrary.
    • Demand an independent review panel. The body established to review classification (a Classification Review Panel) is not sufficiently independent and the simple possession of classified information appears to be illegal even pending a request for declassification and access.
    • Let the Apartheid truth be told! Information that has been made secret in terms of old and potentially unconstitutional laws and policies will remain classified under the current Secrecy Bill pending a review for which no time limit is set. This includes information classified under the apartheid-era Protection of Information Act of 1982 and the government policy adopted in 1996, the Minimum Information Security Standards.
    • Defend our democracy! If passed the Bill would add to the general trend towards secrecy, fear and intimidation that is growing in South Africa today.
    We call on you to apply your mind and reject the Secrecy Bill (Protection of State Information Bill) and uphold the values of openness and transparency that you and others have fought for in the past.


    [Your name]”

    Please circulate widely and ensure your organisation writes to the President to Stop the Secrecy Bill...


    Mark Weinberg
    R2K National Coordinator
    Tel: 021 447 1000
    Mobile: 084 993 0591
  • Zuma Will Not Comment on POIB

    The Presidency says that President Jacob Zuma will not comment on issues surrounding the Protection of State Information Bill (Secrecy Bill) until he has formally received it.
    Presidential spokesperson, Mac Maharaj, points out that, “The legislature, the judiciary and the executive are the three arms of governance of South Africa and, when the president formally receives the bill that Parliament has passed, he will address issues relating to the enactment of the bill into law.”
    Maharaj says that until then, it will be premature and disrespectful of the legislature for the president to comment on the bill.
    To read the article titled, “Zuma mum on Info Bill,” click here.

    Independent Online
  • MPs Vote in Favour of Information Bill

    The Protection of State Information Bill (Secrecy Bill) has been passed by Parliament with 189 votes in favour, 74 against and one member who abstained from voting.

    The bill has been one of the most hotly contested legislative proposals of President Jacob Zuma’s administration, who argue that it is needed to provide more effective regulations for managing sensitive information.

    Under pressure from critics, the bill has already been heavily revised, removing provisions that would have allowed almost any government agency to classify material. The revisions also increase penalties on those who abuse the system and step up public interest safeguards.

    To read the article titled, “MPs give secrecy bill the thumbs-up,” click here.

    The Citizen
  • R2K Protest Against the Secrecy Bill

    The Right2Know Campaign (R2K) has protested outside Luthuli House, the African National Congress (ANC) headquarters in Johannesburg, and Parliament in opposition to the Protection of State Information Bill, which was passed on 25 April 2013.
    The activist group is of the view that it is not too late for the ANC to abandon its launch of the controversial bill.
    Right2Know said by going ahead with the passage of the bill, the ANC will be turning its back on what it spent decades fighting for.
    To read the article titled, “R2K to oppose Secrecy Bill outside Luthuli House,” click here.

    City Press
  • Newsmaker of the Year Award for R2K

    The Right2Know (R2K) campaign has been voted Johannesburg Press Club 2012 newsmaker of the year.
    Accepting the award in Johannesburg, R2K campaign Gauteng spokesperson, Jayshree Pather, described as a victory for people’s power.
    Johannesburg Press Club chairperson, Mixael de Kock, says the R2K, comprising more than 400 organisations with 30 000 members, had relentlessly pursued the public's right to understand the full scope of the Protection of State Information Bill and how it will impact the media and every citizen of this country.
    To read the article titled, “Right2Know campaign voted newsmaker of the year,” click here.

    Times Live
  • Constitutional Court Last Resort - R2K

    The Right2Know Campaign, a civil society organisation opposing the Protection of State Information Bill (Secrecy Bill), says their last resort is a Constitutional Court application.

    The organisation’s Gauteng representative, Dale Mckinley, says there is a lot still need to be done on the Info Bill, adding that the definition of ‘national security’ has been narrowed.

    Mckinley urges President Jacob Zuma not to sign the Bill into law since there are a lot of things that need to be adjusted on it.

    To read the article titled, “Activist says Constitutional Court is last resort against Info Bill,” click here.

    SABC News
  • Secrecy Bill Closer to Becoming Law

    The African National Congress drives 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 that the Bill is the most progressive official secrets legislation worldwide.

    Meanwhile, 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.

    To read the article titled, “Info bill two steps from becoming law,” click here.

  • Activists Vow to Challenge the Secrecy Bill

    The Right2Know Campaign has warned it will launch a constitutional challenge to the Protection of State Information Bill (Secrecy Bill) if it is signed into law without further amendments.

    In a press statement, the organisation argues that, "The secrecy bill remains a threat to our democracy and we will continue our campaign to stop the secrecy bill."

    The organisation says despite last-minute amendments, the bill still clash with the constitutional rights to freedom of information and expression and is likely to lead to over-classification.

    To read the article titled, “Activists vow to challenge info bill,” click here.

  • ANC Adopts Secrecy Bill Final Draft

    The African National Congress (ANC) has adopted the final draft of the Protection of State Information Bill (Secrecy Bill) in the absence of opposition parties, who walked out in protest.
    The eight ruling party MPs on the ad hoc committee handling the draft official secrets law voted unanimously to adopt a report to the National Council of Provinces outlining changes made to it in the past year.
    Meanwhile, committee chairperson, Raseriti Tau, accuses the opposition of reneging on an agreement to adopt the report. However, the Democratic Alliance’s Alf Lees, says the undertaking could not stand given the delay in producing the document.
    To read the article titled, “ANC adopts final info bill draft,” click here.

  • African National Congress Forces Secrecy Bill a Step Closer to Secrecy Law

    Late last night in Parliament the African National Congress (ANC) used its numerical majority to force the Secrecy Bill one step closer to becoming a Secrecy Law. 
    Members of the NCOP ad hoc committee voted to finalise a Bill that still carries the fingerprints of the securocats who have remained the 'hidden hand' behind this process from the start.The finalised version criminalises the public for possessing information that has already been leaked, protects Apartheid-era secrets, and still contains broad definitions of National Security that will in all likelihood be used to suppress legitimate disclosures in the public interest. In short, the Secrecy Bill remains a clear threat to South Africa's right to know.
    Yesterday's amendments that ensure the Bill will not trump the Promotion of Access to Information Act  and introduce tighter - but still only partial - protection for whistleblowers come as little comfort as members of the ANC have evidently relented to pressure from the securocats and seem determined to suppress any further debate on the matter. 
    The Right2Know Campaign remains committed to fighting for a just classification law that governs how the State should keeps very limited secrets. The Secrecy Bill remains a threat to our democracy and we will continue our campaign to Stop the Secrecy Bill as the ANC pushes it through the NCOP and National Assembly. If Parliament fails to introduce the necessary amendments and President Zuma signs it into law, the Rigth2Know will take the fight to the Constitutional Court. 
    ### ENDS ###
    Note to editors: There will be a Right2Know candlelight vigil outside Parliament tonight, from 18h00 and further vigils next week in Johannesburg and Durban. NCOP is scheduled to vote on the Bill on 29 November 2012 and the NAtional Assembly will likely pass the Bill in Early 2013. Then the Bill will go to President Zuma who may sign it into law. 
    R2K Spokesperson – Murray Hunter: 072 672 5468
    R2K Gauteng – Dale McKinley: 072 429 4086
    R2K Western Cape – Nkwame Cedile: 078 227 6008
    R2K KZN – Desmond D’Sa: 083 982 6939
    R2K Eastern Cape – Thembani Zion Onceya: 078 843 7478

    For more about the Right2Know Campaign, refer to

    To view other NGO press releases, visit

    Date published: 
    Right2Know Campaign
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