The Protection of State Information Bill is a controversial bill passed in early 2010 by the South African government, but was soon called back into analysis. Since then there have been consistent rumours about the bill being passed into law. There are numerous organisations opposed to this bill, and few people who would benefit from it, raising the question of if this bill would signal the end of democracy in South Africa.
Right2Know is an activist company founded as an opposition to the Secrecy Bill. It was founded in late August 2010 in Cape Town. It opposes the deterioration of worldwide human rights and portrays themselves as a progressive force which carries the hopes of many. The organisation has assessed the Secrecy Bill according to their seven-point freedom test. There were several concerns regarding the bill, and the key concerns can be seen below.
In their report, Right2Know expresses concern that it is too easy for the minister to extend the number of organisations affected by the bill and that it may extend beyond security of the state, as the government says it would be limited to. They also state that the minister responsible for the extent of the bill may benefit from censorship, allowing the bill to be extended over an unnecessary scale. It also seems, according to this organisation, that information can be classed as “top secret” too readily. They also point out that the bill introduces easy exceptions to the National Archives of South Africa Act 1996, which states that information may not be kept classified for more than twenty years. The panel responsible for granting situations exception has little regulations, effectively canceling out the National Archives of South Africa Act. The Secrecy Bill also states that a report must be made on the secrecy bill annually, which is welcomed by Right2Know, but the organisation expresses concern that there are not regulations as to how this report is to be written, and insufficient information could be in this report, misleading the public. The bill has also removed safeguards on classification of economic information, allowing corrupt businesses to function without being reported on. Right2Know also feels that the bill gives too much protection to the State Security Agency (SSA). There are also harsh penalties for those in possession of protected information, which, Right2Know feels, will lead to a society of secrets living in fear of the government, and discouraging whistleblowers. A Classification Review Panel will be introduced to regulate the classifiable information, however, the Panel is not independent enough to be able to prevent unnecessary censorship (Right2Know).
The Democratic Alliance, commonly simply referred to as the DA, is South Africa’s main opposition party which claims to have its roots in 1959 when liberal politicians left the United Party due to a dispute over land distribution. It is strongly opposed to...