BLACK TUESDAY: Wear black against info bill

20 November 2011 - 04:44 By ISAAC MAHLANGU
Image: Sunday Times

THE National Press Club has called on South Africans to wear black on Tuesday in protest against the Protection of State Information Bill.

Parliament will vote on the controversial bill on that day, which has been declared "Black Wednesday" by the press club.

If the bill is passed, state information may be classified "in the interest of national security" and anyone publishing such information, including journalists and whistle-blowers, could face a 25-year jail sentence.

Club chairman Yusuf Abramjee said the proposed law was going to affect all South Africans and "we all need to stand up now".

Black Wednesday was the name given to the day the apartheid government banned The World and Weekend World - October 19 1977.

A number of activists were arrested and 20 anti-apartheid groups were also banned.

"Now, in a free, democratic South Africa, we are facing censorship. It's sad and it's a serious threat to freedom of speech, freedom of expression and freedom of the media," said Abramjee.

He said by wearing black on Wednesday, South Africans would demonstrate that they were opposed to censorship. Abramjee said although the bill would be challenged in the Constitutional Court, "we call on President Jacob Zuma not to sign it if parliament votes for it".

The chairman of the South African National Editors' Forum, Mondli Makhanya, said the body would join hands with various organisations in protest against the bill .