POIB delay a window of opportunity - David Maynier

DA MP says secrecy bill, as it stands, is a clear danger to freedom of the press

Delay of Info Bill debate a window of opportunity

The Democratic Alliance (DA) welcomes the news that the debate on the Protection of Information Bill (POIB), which was due to take place in Parliament tomorrow, has been delayed.

The fact is that this Bill is a clear and present danger to the freedom of the press and other media in South Africa.

That is why we have proposed that the Bill be amended to include a public interest defence that protects journalists and whistleblowers who disclose "classified" information if it is in the public interest. We therefore hope that the delay will provide a window of opportunity for the ruling party to reconsider its position on the POIB.

The public outcry against the Bill indicates a groundswell of opposition to this threat against the freedoms enshrined in our Constitution. South Africans have united to send a clear message to the ruling party, and the ANC's decision to delay debating the Bill is a victory for democracy.

We hope that the announcement to undertake further consultation on the proposed Bill is not mere lip service. Valid concerns have been raised by members of opposition parties, civil society, and from within the tripartite alliance. If the ANC is indeed serious about undertaking further consultation on the Bill, they should be open to changing their stance on the public interest defence. 

Statement issued by David Maynier MP, DA Shadow Minister of Defence and Military Veterans, September 19 2011

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