ANC STATEMENT ON THE PASSING OF THE PROTECTION OF STATE INFORMATION BILL BY PARLIAMENT
The African National Congress welcomes the passing of the Protection of State Information Bill by the National Assembly yesterday. We are looking forward to more robust and informative engagement when the Bill is tabled at the National Council of Provinces (NCOP). We are convinced of the constructive role that this piece of legislation will play in our constitutional democracy.
We have noted the objections that were registered by some organisations and the opposition parties including the media, to that extent we believe the value of tabling it in Parliament has provided a platform for engagement. We believe that the construct of the legislation is in keeping with international practice and that it is in the interest of all South Africans that information that is in the hands of the state must be handled with care and proper accountability as is the norm all over the world.
It is on record that the ANC delayed the tabling of the Bill to allow further consultations. These have resulted in 123 changes being effected in the Bill. The Joint Adhoc-Committee on Protection of State Information Bill has been to all provinces and met with several organizations that had shown interest including organisations like Cosatu and Sanef. Thousands of views have been received from the members of the public and over 40 submissions from individuals and organisations.
These have resulted in the changes that were effected. We are satisfied that the public and civil society organisations were consulted. It would be more objective for the media and commentators to acknowledge that there is agreement on the Bill except for the inclusion of the of the Public Interest clause. It is therefore mischievous not to highlight this reality.
The conduct of Comrades like Ben Turok in raising their objections by abstaining and using the media smacks of ill-discipline and will be handled internally by the ANC.
Statement issued by Jackson Mthembu, ANC national spokesperson, November 23 2011
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