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The Effect The Protection Of State Information Bill Will Have On South African Democracy If Passed

2312 words - 10 pages

Introduction
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 rumors about the bill being passed into law. There are numerous organizations 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.
Organizations
There are a number of organizations opposed to the bill, and they each have a formidable support base. This shows that the bill does not represent the majority of the people’s desires and is therefore not democratic.
Right2Know
Right2Know is an ...view middle of the document...

The Secrecy Bill also states that a report must be made on the secrecy bill annually, which is welcomed by Right2Know, but the organization 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).
Democratic Alliance
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 the Protection of State Information Bill. Their position on the bill is clear as it says on their website:
“The current Secrecy Bill violates the freedoms we won in 1994. A bill that criminalizes the possession & disclosure of information that is in the public interest has no place in our democracy. It will be used to cover up corruption, unlawful behavior & inefficiencies. It will enable the abuse of state power.
We plan to stop it (Secrecy Bill).”

The DA feels that the African National Congress (ANC) has passed this bill to cover up corruptness in government, allows inefficiency and state errors and prevents the public from discovering information, which could be embarrassing to the ANC. The DA continues to state that the bill opposes state figures such as Desmond Tutu and violates the rights of the South African people (Secrecy Bill).

To oppose this bill, the DA has taken a number of actions. This includes a private meeting with President Jacob Zuma, which the DA plans to alert Zuma of the short and long-term effects this bill will bring. They also plan to seek legal advice regarding the validity of the bill, as it has been tagged as a Section 75 Bill (a bill which doesn’t affect the provinces) instead of a Section 76 Bill (a bill which affects the provinces). The DA feels that this could be a major flaw in the bill, which would make it harder to pass into law. The DA calls for amendments to the bill, and demand a full public participation process. Should the bill be passed back into law, the DA will launch a petition to send the bill back into assessment. Another petition lead by the DA will include other political leaders will claim that the bill is unconstitutional. In regions run by the DA, they say they will promote...

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