ANC ramming through Secrecy Bill - Right2Know

27 May 2011

Organisation says ruling party has reneged on a number of earlier concessions

Right2Know calls for new period of action on Secrecy Bill

The decision by ANC MPs on Parliament's ad-hoc committee to vote on clauses of the Secrecy Bill on Tuesday confirms that the ruling party is willing to use its majority on the committee to steamroll a range of unresolved problems with the Bill (see outstanding demands below).

Despite months of public outcry from a wide spectrum of civil society organisations, political parties and ordinary citizens and stalled debate in the committee room, MPs have failed to reduce in any meaningful way the Secrecy Bill's draconian provisions. Indeed, ANC MPs seem determined to finalise the Bill by June 24 using any means necessary, including ramming it through via clause-by-clause voting.

What yesterday's events confirm is that the ANC position on the Secrecy Bill has hardened. As a result, its MPs have reneged on a number of concessions made in recent months to reduce the Bill's powers.

On Tuesday the chair of the committee, Cecil Burgess, allowed state law advisors to table a version of the Bill which does not include the concessions made in a previous draft tabled by the ANC. This version of the Bill will introduce wide powers for the state to classify information at every level, and will have no independent oversight, or proper whistleblower protection.

In doing so, Burgess and other ANC MPs on the committee have negated a number of gains made in narrowing the Bill's discretions, reversing what progress had been made in aligning the Bill with constitutional provisions around the rights of freedom of expression and access to information.

This is a struggle that is bigger than political affiliation. The Secrecy Bill will affect us all!

The Right2Know Campaign is calling for a new period of action to stop the Secrecy Bill. We call on all those who are seriously concerned by this turn of events to make their collective and individual voices heard now. 

In the coming days, as MPs meet in Parliament to finalise the Secrecy Bill, R2K working groups will join together to develop plans to ratchet up the pressure to halt this regressive piece of legislation that threatens to take our country back to the dark days of secrecy.

The ANC must abandon its efforts to pass the Bill in its current form and withdraw the Bill to be redrafted from scratch, with proper public consultation. We will spread the message across the country and the globe: Stop the Secrecy Bill! Let the truth be told!

R2K demands:

When the Right2Know launched on 31 August 2011, we tabled the ‘7 Point Freedom Test', a list of demands that must be met by any law governing state secrecy. So far only one has been addressed:

1. Limit secrecy to core state bodies in the security sector such as the police, defence and intelligence agencies.

2. Limit secrecy to strictly-defined national security matters and no more. Officials must give reasons for making information secret.

3. Exclude commercial information from this Bill.

4. Do not exempt the intelligence agencies from public scrutiny.

5. Do not apply penalties for unauthorised disclosure to society at large, only those responsible for keeping secrets.

6. An independent body appointed by Parliament, and not the Minister of State Security, should be the arbiter of decisions about what may be made secret.

7. Do not criminalise the legitimate disclosure of secrets in the public interest.

Any law that doesn't meet these demands is unconstitutional and must be scrapped!

Statement issued by Right2Know, May 26 2011

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If you come across comments that are injurious, defamatory, profane, off-topic or inappropriate; contain personal attacks or racist, sexist, homophobic, or other slurs, please report them and they will be removed.
 responses to this article

The Nationalists at their Worst!!
This is the Nationalist Government all over again. The only difference is that the ANC are being sanctimonious by debating it in committee. If this goes through we are on the slippery slope where all the corrupt politicians can do as they please. . .more

by Johan Schoeman on May 27 2011, 05:05
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Secrecy Bill
And, MAYBE, quite justifiably (from the ANC perspective) IF Helen Zille's conduct attracts no criticism?

Zille has employed secrecy for the most frivolous reasons yet nobody complained.

Where were (or are) you people who now . .more

by single standard on May 27 2011, 06:43
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when a democracy is not a democracy
Is Helen Zille not playing by the rules set by the ANC government? Surely what's good for the goose is good for the gander. However, when all is said and done, the rules must be the same for everyone, no matter who is in charge. If the new bill is passed . .more

by Scom on May 27 2011, 07:29
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right to know
its not about what a single person does or not ,this bill is a threat to our freedom if we dont stop it then there is worse to come -our 'liberators' are trying hard to remove our right to know-we dont need any more prove that the anc has lost the plot. . .more

by lisa mcbride on May 27 2011, 07:45
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Not Nationalists. But Nazi's at their worst.
This is a Goebbels type attitude by the ANC.

by Tom on May 27 2011, 08:00
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@johan schoeman
This is about a media being accountabe and taking responibility of what they r saying about a celebrity or a politician.JUST PROVE example,there was an allegation about the deputy president having impregnented a 21 year old woman.WHY??What happened . .more

by black zama on May 27 2011, 08:12
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This time we have to take to the streets to protest!

This secrecy bill has been proposed this time round with such devious skill using the boiling of the frog technique. (place the frog in cold water and turn up the heat very slowly to get accustomed to the temp until boiling) First govt shouted and . .more

by DM on May 27 2011, 08:18
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@black zama
You are blindly loyal, like a captain going down needlessly with his sinking ship. The ANC will bulldoze their way to removing freedom from any instance of criticism and oppostion. And we will end up like Libya and Egypt eventually. Eventually the ANC . .more

by Paul on May 27 2011, 09:21
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Our democracy will not be dominated by interest groups
Our democracy cannot be dominated by interest groups. We dont go to elections to elect interest groups. We elect public representatives. We cannot afford to have some groups with anonimous constituencies to dictate our legislative agenda. A good thing . .more

by FelaswaAfrika on May 27 2011, 09:36
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If we could turn back to the time when this country was meekly - and under-handedly - given over to majority/black rule - by all the gullible 'rainbow-nation' aspirants, left-wing zealots, internationals and others, what a different scenario would NOW . .more

by Hard a' Starboard on May 27 2011, 09:59
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this country has a constitution and nobody has talked about changing it.Lets get to the fact WHAT HAPPENED TO THAT PREGNANT WOMEN?.was the media lying?????????

by black zama on May 27 2011, 10:37
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Online Newspaper
The ANC should prepare itself for an offshore Newspaper devoted to news that they suppress. Of course, it will not be possible to check information leaked to the online newspaper with the government, and sources will have to remain anonymous. Not the way . .more

by Sam van den Berg on May 27 2011, 10:43
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This bill and the way it is being rammed through will go a long way towards creating the impression that the freedom struggle in SA was the biggest fraud in the history of mankind .

by steve on May 27 2011, 10:46
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you are correct in saying that we don't elect or require interest groups. however if the government was doing it's job (which incidently they are not coming close to achieving) we would not need groups to lobby on our behalf. that's what democracy is all . .more

by Scom on May 27 2011, 10:53
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They told you so.
The old Verwoerd , Vorster and PW were right about the "swart gevaar" after all not to mention their accurate predictions concerning the "rooi gevaar ". History will make them out to be prophets of the future demise of a wasteland of murder, . .more

by Kreef on May 27 2011, 10:55
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@Black Zama
Black Zama... No one actually gives a S*** about stupid politician's who cannot keep their trousers up - that is simply tabloid journalism... please don't confuse it with the fact that this government is trying to push through bills that will not allow . .more

by leapinglizzie on May 27 2011, 16:06
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Interest groups are play an important part in any democracy worldwide. If you think democracy is only about voting for your choice every few years, then just like the ANC, you have no clue as to what democracy is.

by Jeff on May 27 2011, 18:05
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@Single standard
"5 odd billion stadium (bigger issue than the arms deal allegations)"

5 billion rand is a drop in the ocean compared to the arms deal which has now escalated from around 35 billion rand originally to about 70 billion rand today.
The Cape . .more

by Jeff on May 27 2011, 18:10
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The fairy tale of a stadium by single standard on May 27 2011, 06:43
@Jeff: I remember Zille, being against the stadium, was called racist and accused of preventing the poor from the Cape Flats to enjoy soccer in a predominantly white area. Unfortunately the scandal behind the Cape Town stadium never reached the general . .more

by Klaus in RSA on May 28 2011, 00:17
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