Secrecy Bill

Kasrils Slams the Information Bill

Former Intelligence Minister, Ronnie Kasrils, has told a group of protestors outside Parliament that there are too many things going wrong in the country for critics of the so-called Info Bill to be silenced.

Kasrils joined a group of demonstrators from the lobby group Right to Know Campaign (R2K), who are camping outside the parliamentary gates to protest against the Protection of State Information Bill.

R2K Protests Against Secrecy Bill

The Right2Know (R2K) Campaign has launched its ‘Camp-Out for Openness’, week-long gathering of teach-ins, picketing and screenings, at the gates of Cape Town’s Parliament house.

R2K national spokesperson, Murray Hunter, points out that, “We will not only be protesting but highlighting the broader struggle against secrecy in South Africa.”

Hunter says that campaigners will be at the gates of Parliament day and night to ensure that the voices of ordinary citizens who struggle to empower and inform themselves, are heard.

NGOs Vow to Resist ‘Secrecy Bill’

Organisations opposed to the Protection of State Information Bill (Secrecy Bill) have vowed to continue resisting the contentious draft legislation.

Speaking during a protest march in Pretoria, Right2Know (R2K) campaign Gauteng spokesperson, Dale McKinley, said that the ‘flawed’ bill has to be withdrawn.

McKinley, points out that, "The bill before Parliament is still flawed and has many problems, adding that there are several reasons for opposing the bill, but the main one is the lack of a public interest defence clause and lack of protection for whistle-blowers.

Secrecy Bill: Clash of Laws Looms

Analysts say the Protection of State Information Bill (Secrecy Bill) has been rewritten to general, qualified relief, but the latest draft still makes for a messy clash of laws on access to state documents.

The difficulty lies in clause 1(4) of the Secrecy Bill, which seeks to assert its supremacy over any other law that pertains to classified information.

Critics have long warned that this clause renders the bill unconstitutional because it explicitly seeks to have the new measure trump the Promotion of Access to Information Act (PAIA), which was passed in 2000.

Secrecy Bill Likely Going to ConCourt

Deputy President, Kgalema Motlanthe, says it would be wise for President Jacob Zuma to refer the controversial Protection of State Information Bill to the Constitutional Court for certification.

Motlanthe is being quoted as saying that, "We would not hesitate to say to the president 'send it to the Constitutional Court for certification before assenting to it'.”

The Bill has sparked two years of sustained protest and has resulted in media houses, activists and the Congress of South African Trade Unions threatening to challenge it in the Constitutional Court.

ANC Backtracks on Key Secrecy Bill Clauses

The African National Congress’ (ANC) concessions on the Protection of State Information Bill (Secrecy Bill) have further reduced the threat posed to whistle-blowers and the Promotion of Access to Information Act.

When the National Council of Provinces's (NCOP) ad hoc committee dealing with the Secrecy Bill resumed its deliberations, the ANC agreed to delete two bitterly contested clauses.

The intervention was welcomed by activists who oppose the Secrecy Bill, which could make journalists and whistle-blowers vulnerable to prison sentences of up to 25 years.

Secrecy Bill to Limit Media Freedom

According to a survey released by market research company, Ipsos, almost half of South Africans say the Protection of State Information Bill (Secrecy Bill) will limit media freedom.

In a press statement, Ipsos points out that, “Forty-four percent of South Africans believe that the proposed information bill will limit media freedom."

It says that 13 percent of respondents said the proposed legislation will not limit media freedom, adding that a third – 29 percent - were neutral, and 14 percent of those surveyed had no opinion.

Tau: No Need to Involve Motlanthe in Secrecy Bill

Chairperson of the ad hoc committee in the National Council of Provinces, Raseriti Tau, says there is no need for Deputy President, Kgalema Motlanthe, to be involved in the Protection of the State Information Bill (Secrecy Bill).

Responding to an accusation by the Democratic Alliance’s Alf Lees, that the state security department is undermining the legislative authority by shooting down amendments to the Bill, Tau moved to defend the department, saying it is the committee that had given the department more time to clarify its position on the Bill.

State Security Rejects Secrecy Bill Amendments

The Department of State Security has disagreed with a swathe of amendments to the Protection of State Information Bill (Secrecy Bill) made by the National Council of Provinces’ ad hoc committee.

Acting director-general in the department, Dennis Dhlomo, who went through the suggestions of the committee and tried to persuade the NCOP that they should not be included in the Bill, says the reason national security was broadly defined is to create the space to respond quickly to developing threats against the state.

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