Is the Protection of State Information Bill really undermining the Constitutional Values?
Others say, “There is No such Secrecy Bill its Protection of state information” well it’s depends on how you look at it, those opposed it are calling it secrecy bill. My biggest concern right now is that where does this concept come from because its unique to South Africa.
Is the Protection of state information Bill really undermining the Constitutional Values, such as transparency, openness, and accountability etc, if this bill goes as it at the moment or on its current form? What does this mean to News Agency?
It’s clear that certain part of our government wants to undermine our democracy by giving themselves powers, instead of resolving this in the interest of majority, freedom of expression. Less look at the (Original Intention and Current Intention) Critics have said, “The secrecy bill is the biggest up front to democracy since apartheid ended in 1994.” They said, “The draft is necessary replacement for apartheid hiding from the public what they need to know. “ The non government organization, Businesses and society at large has called up on the government to include the public defense into the protection of state information bill, but that seems to be landed in deaf ears. Business South Africa (Busa) has said, “The need for such a clues is to allay fears and accountability exist in South African public affairs.
They went on to say, “that corruption is the serious threat to the achievement of South Africa in social economic goals and the free flow of information is an essential part of reducing corruption”. Majority of South Africans feel left out with regarding this issue.
Even those who were part of drafting the plan under former president Thabo Mbeki, who where put together by the former Minister of Intelligence Ronnie Kasrils. Firstly, the preliminary plan was really to look at all state system of classified information ensuring that everything is strictly written confidentially. The idea was to have a legislation that going to be classified, lots of the information that is classified but do not necessary requires classification on our new constitutional democracy and secondly, was to minimize the criteria for classification in the future, basically it was to clean up the past open it up and then be able to put a very strictly guidelines as to what is going to be classified.
And thirdly was really to create an offense which is not quite clear now on our legal system of obliterate of spies from outside coming to the country and using individual to open information that will be harmful to the state and the society in general. So those were some of the key principle that was guiding what the draft was all about. Due to the change of the regime or administration the new group that came in took what was already being discussed in parliament went and re-wrote it in their favor.
Its was a well drafted peace of legislation and those who are pushing it so hard for the new version that has been draft by the new government to go on as it is because that was not original intention. It look like they planning to create a very serious crime, in a nutshell this mean that people who publish information that is classified will be committing a very serious crime. The government needs to put the public interest forward as its claim that its serves the public interest rather then seeing the state interest verse the public interest. The challenge is how are we going to ensure that this is going to be balance on both side?
If one looks at the bills of rights and clues on excess to information bill, “ its says everyone has a right of excess to any information held by the state and any information that is held by another person. The Lobbying groups pleaded with MP’s to re-think its decision on protecting state information saying that,” it will effect the work of Journalist exposing wrong doing, corruption and whistle blowing. Its doesn’t seems that the government want to protect the public because this bill will reduce journalist especial investigative journalist into the state of ordinary South African citizen by obliging then to hand over classified information to the police like every ordinary citizen. The bill as its set to be finalized and passed on 17 of May in the National Council of Provinces (NPC).
The biggest question is, Can the lobbying group stop this bill in parliament or in the constitution? That still remains to be seen.