Our 4 objections to the POIB - NUMSA

Union says journalists would be subjected to old apartheid regime tactics

NUMSA Statement on Protection of State Information Bill

The National Union of Metalworkers of South Africa (Numsa) notes that the National Assembly will tomorrow Tuesday 20 September 2011, table the Protection of State Information Bill.

This Bill is much talked about in the public domain and it's on the lips of many South Africans, particularly media houses and practioners. We refuse to be spectators on this matter, since it will have an ominous and far-reaching consequence on our public lives and broader society.

We are aware that by joining the chorus for the Bill to be withdrawn until a broad consensus is reached, we shall not be spared any opportunistic characterization of being ‘populist', ‘anti-majoritarian' or being in bed with the media.

The Freedom Charter eloquently states that ‘the people shall govern' and it does not say the parliamentarians shall govern!

We are prepared not to be defocused from raising matters of principle, because we know it's for a good cause. We refuse to be blackmailed to the failed logic, that our public stances are oppositionist to government and the ANC itself. The moment we agree to this logic, our country and broad movement will be reduced into a choir of yes-men and women.

The Bill in its current form and content is in contrast with what Comrades such as Ruth First, Edwin Mofutsanyane, Bessie Head, Govan Mbeki, Mzala Nxumalo and other countless organic journalists produced by the movement fought and died for.

The Bill if it goes through and passed by the National Assembly, the following areas in the Bill are problematic and at odds with democratic values and traditions;

1. It does not include a public defense override;

2. It does not sufficiently protect whistle-blowers;

3. It does not define national security narrowly enough;

4. It could throw a veil of secrecy over corruption.

The question that we need to pose is how is this Bill going to resolve the triple crisis of unemployment, poverty and deepening inequalities? For which class and interest is this Bill being sneaked in to parliament for endorsement? Has apartheid history not taught us a lesson to be open and transparent to the people we serve?

Why a democratically elected government would want to subject journalist-workers to the same old apartheid regime tactics of muzzling or silencing the media? Which stratum of society stands to benefit from this Bill?

Statement issued by Castro Ngobese, NUMSA national spokesperson, September 19 2011

Click here to sign up to receive our free daily headline email newsletter