The Right to Know Campaign – Stop the Secrecy Bill Let the Truth be Told

Dr. Dale T. McKinley is on the national working group of the Right to Know Campaign. He is an activist, independent writer, researcher and lecturer. He was also a co-founder and executive member of the Anti-Privatisation Forum and remains active in social movement/community struggles. He holds a PhD. in Political Economy/African Studies and occasionally lectures at university level and gives regular talks/inputs to a wide variety of organisations. He is the author two books and has written extensively on South African and international political economy, socio-economic rights/struggles and liberation movement and community politics.

About this Conversation

We spoke to Dale Mckinley about the Right to Know Campaign, which was initiated in 2010, in opposition to the Public Information Bill. The campaign now includes over 400 signed up organisations who have come together in combined opposition to what they believe is the attempt to cut off information from the public sector and create a society of secrets, supported within a powerful, intelligence, security cluster in government.

Dale sees some of the success of the campaign to date as being its ability to rally together a diverse range of civil society groups around a single issue. The Right to Know Campaign has evolved from being a fight started up by intellectuals, expanding to include communities, townships and rural areas.

Dale discusses what he sees as the creeping securitisation of the state, with the state introducing a number of legislation that restricts the publics right to information. Included in these are the General Intelligence Laws Amendment Bill which talks to the centralisation of the intelligence structures in South Africa into a single agency and the Energy Regulation Bill, which outlaws the sharing of information on environmental sensitive information.

Dale also shares with us his theories on the reason behind the increased securitisation- and centralisation of the control of information. He links these predominantly to internal battles within the ANC and the increasing insecurity of the ruling class over their power base, resulting in the centralisation of power.

In addition, we discuss the type of information that the Campaign feels will be relevant to be kept outside of the public domain.

With regard to the campaign, the focus is on; fighting legislation that forces censorship; ensuring that access to information is guarenteed; ensuring media freedom and diversity; and supporting and encouraging whistle blowing.

The Right to Know Campaign believes that there are a number of points in which the new legislation’s are unconstitutional, and will require in turn amendments to a number of other pieces of legislation and constitutional principles.

The Right to Know Campaign has a very energetic plan of action to take this campaign to the streets.

Points of Discussion

  • What is R2K about, how did it come about and who was behind it?
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  • The Protection of (State) Information Bill and the General Intelligence Laws Amendment Bill ?
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  • Why does Government believe it necessary to have these laws passed?
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  • Is Right to Know campaign only focused on these bills?
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  • What you do believe are the motivations (true intent) for these bills?
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  • What information could/should be off limits to the public?
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  • Is it even practical for this Government to try to pass these laws given the rapid fire distribution available to citizens through the Internet?
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  • Where do we stand right now with these potential pieces of legislation?
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  • What are the next steps of these bills become law?
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  • Is this unconstitutional?
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  • How has your opposition of these actions by Government been received by Government?
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  • Do you think South Africans know enough are they aware of the magnitude of these issues?
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  • What are key issues for the campaign right now?
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  • What is the way forward for Right to Know and how do people come on board?
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Protection of [State] Information Bill

General Intelligence Laws Amendment Bill

Final Report of the Ministerial Review Commission on Intelligence in South Africa

Categories : Activism, Videos