Robinson slams 'secrecy bill'
Mary Robinson, a former president of Ireland, has slammed the South African government over the Protection of State Information Bill and warned that corruption could erode the ANC's reputation.
She delivered the 10th annual Nelson Mandela lecture at the Cape Town City Hall yesterday.
Robinson and Mandela are members of the Group of Elders, chaired by retired Archbishop Desmond Tutu. Yesterday was the 50th anniversary of Mandela's arrest by apartheid authorities.
"In order for citizens to remain the stewards of democracy, issues of accountability and transparency in governance are key," said Robinson. "It is therefore with great concern that I have followed the progress of South Africa's Protection of State Information legislation - knowingly styled the 'Secrecy Act'.
"Perhaps it is not my place to pronounce on the levels of corruption in today's South Africa. But, from my experience as a human rights lawyer, I can give certainty: if you enact a law that cloaks the working of state actors, that interferes with press freedom to investigate corruption, that stifles efforts by whistle-blowers to expose corruption, you are sure to increase those levels of corruption tomorrow."
Listening to Robinson's lecture were Deputy President Kgalema Motlanthe, Mandela's grandson Mandla Mandela, Western Cape Premier Helen Zille and Cape Town mayor Patricia de Lille .
Robinson said she loved South Africa because of its historic victory over apartheid, its promise of a "rainbow nation" and for producing the "great moral giants" of her lifetime, Mandela and Tutu.
"Sadly, though, in recent years my South African friends tell me that the ANC's moral authority has been eroded, tainted by allegations of corruption; a temporary betrayal of its history," she said.