ANC Makes Further Concessions to Info Bill

Right2Know

After nearly two years of public protest over the proposed Protection of State Information Bill, the ANC has announced that it would be making further concessions to the draft law and would be deleting some of the more contested provisions.

At a National Council of Provinces ad hoc committee meeting on Wednesday, ANC MP Sam Mozisiwe confirmed that the ANC would be standing by the removal of the line which would trump the Promotion of Access to Information Act, a sub-clause many around the country labelled as unconstitutional.

The ruling party also agreed that it would strike clause 49 from the bill which would ban the release of any information relating to state security, as well as agreeing to remove a provision which would allow municipalities to classify information.

While these concessions have been made, one that is noticeably lacking is to include a public interest defence in the bill to protect whistle-blowers and journalists who expose state secrets to reveal corruption. The ANC has proposed an exemption from prosecution where such disclosure may be exposing a crime, however many are still unhappy and are calling for further changes.

The Right 2 Know campaign, the biggest group opposed to the bill, said that it welcomed these changes but it would still continue to campaign for the bill to be rewritten until it actively promoted transparency.

National co-ordinator Murray Hunter said, “R2K has for a long time called for MPs to push back against the securocrats who introduced the Secrecy Bill to bolster their own powers, and this appears at last to be happening.”

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