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Sat Nov 01 15:59:40 SAST 2014

ANC's information bill is an insult to our constitution

The Editor, The Times Newspaper | 01 June, 2011 21:580 Comments

The Times Editorial: It appears that the enactment of the Protection of Information Bill is a foregone conclusion - judging by the indecent and contemptuous haste displayed by the ANC.



How else can we interpret the behaviour of those ANC members who form the majority in the parliamentary ad hoc committee established to deal with the bill?

At the moment, they are pushing the bill through, clause by clause, using their majority to sweep aside close scrutiny and criticism.

Since it was originally mooted, the secrecy bill, as it has come to be known, has created intense discomfort across South African society.

So much so that even the ANC's alliance partner, Cosatu, issued a statement on Tuesday objecting to the bill.

Cosatu is concerned that much of civil society's objections to the bill appear to have been dismissed by the ANC members in the ad hoc committee - particularly aspects relating to the protection of whistle-blowers.

Yesterday, former intelligence minister Ronnie Kasrils issued a statement criticising the hasty passage of the bill.

Having originated under his watch, it is important to note his criticism - that "civil society is absolutely correct to ask government to think again and not rush in where angels should warily tread".

The statement by Kasrils and Cosatu should alert the ANC to the fact that the concern about the secrecy bill goes far beyond opposition parties and the media.

Surely the ruling party must have started to realise the dire consequences of the bill being enacted and the implications for the free flow of information?

The mere existence of the Protection of Information Bill is an insult to those South Africans who sat down pre-1994 and painstakingly negotiated every single point in our Constitution, including the principles of freedom of speech.

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ANC's information bill is an insult to our constitution

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