Despite top lawyers warning that the bill is unconstitutional, the majority of MPs are expected to vote it through. But it will be up to the Chief Whips to rally the MPs to vote for or against the bill. If we flood their inboxes with messages from across South Africa calling on them to respect the law and oppose the secrecy bill, they could think twice about pushing it through.
Let's appeal to the Whips' sense of democratic responsibility and call on them to protect hard-won constitutional rights and freedoms, and transparent government. Use the form on the right to send a message straight to their inboxes and urge them to say No to the Secrecy Bill, then share this with everyone -- we will release the number of messages sent to the media on the eve of the vote.
Stop the Secrecy Bill -- upcoming events
Stop the Secrecy Bill -- upcoming events
On Saturday 17 September from 10am to 1pm, thousands of South Africans will join in a march to Parliament to reject the final draft of the "Secrecy Bill". Join the march!
When: 17 September 2011, 10am-1pm
Cape Town: Starts on corner of Tennant St and Keizersgracht St (outside CPUT)
*** Come dressed in red, black and white! ***
On Monday 19 September there will be candlelight vigils in Cape Town, Durban and Johannesburg from 6pm - 8pm.
When: 19 September 2011, 6pm-8pm
Cape Town: outside Parliament, corner of Roeland and Plein Street
Durban: outside King's House
JHB: Kotze entrance to ConCourt on Hospital Rd
Addresses tbc -- for updates and more informations, check this page later
If you haven't yet sent a message to the four Chief Whips in the National Assembly, do so here:
STAND UP FOR YOUR RIGHT TO KNOW!
March to Parliament, Saturday 17 September, starting at cnr Keizersgracht & Tennant 10:30AM
It's been almost one year since R2K mounted its first march on Parliament in protest at the draconian Secrecy Bill! Through the efforts of our membership of civil society organisations, social movements and community groups, we have ensured that many of the draconian clauses have been removed or revised.
But despite efforts to reform the Secrecy Bill in Parliament, the final draft that will appear before the National Assembly still metes out harsh prison sentences to whistleblowers, and poses a clear threat to the free flow of information.
On Saturday 17 September from 10.30am to 1pm, thousands of South Africans will join in a march to Parliament to reject the final draft of the 'Secrecy Bill'. Speakers include Zackie Achmat, Tony Ehrenreich, Sindiwe Magona, Ronnie Karsrils, Jonathan Zapiro and UCT Vice Chancellor Max Price, as well as social movements and community-based organisations from across the Cape Peninsular.
Start time: 10.30AM (right after the rugby)
Where: Cnr of Tennant St and Kaizersgracht St (outside CPUT campus)
COME DRESSED IN RED, BLACK and WHITE!
For comment, contact:For comment, contact:
R2K Western Cape: Clifford Nogwavu: 073 4493964
Hopolang Selebalo: 074 2611672
Khaya Xhintolo: 078 0241683
Mark Weinberg: 074 1036704
Mathilda Groepe: 076 4772508
Murray Hunter: 072 6725468
Nkwame Cedile: 078 2276008
Sithembile Mbete: 083 6862554
R2K Gauteng: Dale McKinley: 082 4135621
Jayshree Pather: 082 4135621
Siphiwe Segodi: 072 6554177
R2K KZN Des D'Sa: 083 9826939
Quinton Kippen: 083 8717549
R2K Eastern Cape Ayanda Kota: 078 6256462
Bahle Sofute: 073 1344288
OR DO AS I DID, AND COMPLETE THE ONLINE LETTER (SEE BELOW):
Dear Ms. Ntwanambi, Mr. Davidson, Mr. Magwanishe and Mr. Motshekga,
I call on you, along with thousands across the country, to recommend that MPs send the Protection of Information Bill back to Committee to be redrafted in line with the Constitution. The draft to be voted on September 20th is flawed --it throws a shroud over government and will obstruct legitimate whistle blowers from exposing information that is in the public interest, like cases of corruption and abuse of power.
As Chief Whip you have the power to persuade our MPs to protect our democracy and our Constitution and to redraft a Protection of Information Bill that protects both the government and the public.
Lizette De Klerk
TELL EVERYONE VIA THESE SOCIAL MEDIA TOOLS:
HERE IS THAT LINK:
SEE ALSO the following sources (some with short quoted sections included here):
NC members of the ad hoc committee on the Bill, led by chairperson Cecil Burgess and his right-hand-man Lluwellyn Landers, have now made it clear that no further debate is to be brooked. They will vote clause by clause and the most pernicious features of the government's original draft will pass through to the National Assembly and on to President Jacob Zuma's desk.
The broad remit of the proposed law, which covers state institutions ranging from the Johannesburg Zoo to the National Intelligence Agency remains intact. So does the criminalisation of whistle-blowing and the publication of leaked documents, not to mention measures that force unprecedented secrecy on our courts.
Why isn't the ANC listening? It may be that there is no natural constituency for freedom of information, or rather that that constituency fails truly to grasp the urgency of the issue. Cosatu and its affiliates threaten to strike for wages, or against the Municipal Systems Bill, but they offer only token resistance to this assault on workers' interests. The best business can manage is an occasional word of criticism. Neither cares enough to spend political capital.
That leaves the media and the Right2Know coalition with plenty of activist vigour and precious few big levers left to pull.
Post-apartheid South Africa has entered one of the most boiling periods of its history, as journalists, businesses, politicians, non-governmental organisations, trade unionists, academics and ordinary citizens have formed a 'one love, one heart' bloc to stop the Protection of Information Bill - aka Secrecy Bill - from being enacted in its current form. But, will the ruling ANC hear the cry of its children?
Critics firmly believe the Secrecy Bill will compromise transparency and service delivery, institutionalise state corruption, hamper foreign investment and access to information, and put a dent on free reporting and investigative journalism.
In brief, there is a general impression that the current form of this proposed legislation - ambiguous, unconstitutional and abusive - will hurt democracy, a sacrosanct right gained at the barrel of violence, division, hate, blood, tears and sweat.
Support YOUR RIGHT TO KNOW!
National and Cape Town
PO Box 3077, Cape Town, 8000 South Africa
TAKE ACTION HERE:
DEMAND THE RIGHT TO KNOW!
STOP THE SECRECY BILL!
March to Parliament: 10am - 1pm, Saturday 17 September 2011
It's been almost one year since R2K mounted its first march on Parliament in protest at the draconian Secrecy Bill!
Through the efforts of our membership of civil society organisations, social movements and community groups, we have ensured that many of the draconian clauses have been removed or revised. But despite efforts to reform the Secrecy Bill in Parliament, the final draft that will appear before the National Assembly still metes out harsh prison sentences to whistleblowers, and poses a clear threat to the free flow of information.
On Saturday 17 September from 10am to 1pm, thousands of South Africans will join in a march to Parliament to reject the final draft of the 'Secrecy Bill'!
Gathering point: cnr of Keizersgracht and Tennant, 10am.
How can you get involved?
1) Join our march! RSVP on the Facebook event page.
2) Send this invitation to everyone you know!
3) Volunteer to be a MARSHAL on the day. Send an email to email@example.com with your contact details and "Marshal" in the subject line.
4) Make a donation to support our march! This can be done by EFT - check our details.
For more information, and to organise transport for your community contact Nkwame Cedile:firstname.lastname@example.org / 021 461 7211 or 078 227 6008
COME DRESSED IN RED, BLACK and WHITE!
If the South African Parliament pushes through the highly controversial Protection of Information Bill, the negative fallout in the region could be immense, said CIVICUS: World Alliance for Citizen Participation today.
"We are witnessing a pervasive crackdown on the freedoms of expression, association and assembly across the African continent," said Netsanet Belay, Policy and Research Director at CIVICUS. "At present, South Africa remains an island of democracy. But if the draconian secrecy bill is passed, this will change and further encourage authoritarian leaders in the region to inhibit democratic freedoms."
The Protection of Information Bill is currently being discussed in committee by the South African Parliament. It contains a number of problematic provisions, establishing serious hurdles for the media and civil society to obtain information about official corruption mismanagement and government service delivery issues. The Bill gives government officials wide powers to prevent disclosure in the interests of "national security" which is broadly defined to cover a vast array of information.
"Passage of the Bill will lead to increased opaqueness in the functioning of government departments, making it extremely difficult for citizens to identify bottlenecks in the official machinery, inhibiting their access to constitutional entitlements and services," said Dale McKinley of the Right 2 Know Campaign. "South Africa has a constitutional commitment to 'accountability, responsiveness and openness.' This bill goes a long way in negating these values for which the struggle against apartheid was waged and upon which the edifice of South African democracy stands."
The Bill applies to all organs of the state, which includes national and provincial government departments, independent commissions, municipal and local councils and forums. It empowers the Minister of State Security to "prescribe broad categories and sub-categories" to classify information to prevent it from entering the public sphere. The heads of government departments are further empowered to put in place departmental policies, directives and categories for the purpose of classifying and declassifying information.
The Bill also contains draconian punishments ranging up to 25 years in prison for a host of offences, including obtaining, possessing, intercepting and disclosing classified information. South African journalists and civil society activists are extremely anxious about their ability to pursue their quest for the truth in the future. Notably, the bill has no clause to protect the disclosure of information in the 'public interest.'
CIVICUS calls upon the South African Parliament to reject this "anti-people" bill in its totality. "It not only negates constitutional freedoms at home but also tarnishes South Africa's reputation as a leading democracy and emerging voice of conscience from the global south," said Belay.
South Africa: Ex-spy chief Kasrils against secrecy bill
Ronnie Kasrils is the latest high-profile figure to speak out against the controversial plans
South Africa's ex-intelligence minister has warned the governing African National Congress (ANC) against pushing a secrecy bill through parliament.
The Protection of Information Bill would allow the government to classify material that is currently not secret.
In an open letter, Ronnie Kasrils said it could have unintended consequences and silence whistle-blowers.
"It will certainly undermine public trust in the intelligence and security services," he said.
The BBC's Karen Allen in Johannesburg says the proposed legislation has been met with a torrent of criticism from across the political divide.
The South African National Editors Forum has written to MPs asking them to halt the processing of the controversial secrecy bill until it has been redrafted.
International Freedom of Expression Exchange: The global network for free expression
South Africa's Parliamentary Committee is ramming through an unconstitutional secrecy bill that could allow government institutions to operate without public scrutiny, and deter the media from exposing corruption. But public pressure has forced the Committee to continue the debate. Show your opposition to the bill before it becomes law by signing Avaaz's petition here.
Right now ruling party MPs are forcing the Parliamentary Committee to vote clause by clause on a "protection of information" bill that gives nearly every state body - from the National Art Gallery to every university in South Africa - the right to classify its information based on a vague definition of "national security". Citizens could be denied information on where their taxes are going, for example, as well other crucial information they may need to make important decisions.
Those found guilty of disclosing information could face a minimum of 15 years in jail. The provision is widely seen as an attempt to curb investigative reporting and criticism of the government. More here:
The Bill has the ability to snake into every aspect of our lives.
… Pick n Pay chairman, Gareth Ackerman.
Ackerman is worried that the legislation has the potential of scaring off foreign investors and BLUNTING the rights of consumers.
He believes any perceived limitation on media freedom would be viewed negatively by international markets and that South Africa's reputation would suffer.
Biko's lawyer attacks 'secrecy bill'
Biko family lawyer Sir Sydney Kentridge has slammed the Protection of State Information Bill. Kentridge was delivering the 12th annual Steve Biko Memorial Lecture at UCT on Monday night, the 34th anniversary of the Black Consciousness leader's killing in security [...]
South Africa: Secrecy Bill - some concessions but struggle continues
South African civil society's struggle to bring the controversial Protection of Information Bill - aka Secrecy Bill - in line with constitutional requirements continues, amid some concessions made by the ANC-led parliamentary committee, which wants the bill's debate closed by 21 September 2011.
The Right2Know campaign this week released a seven-point Freedom Test - its key demands - said to be at the centre of the contention - a saga that has sparked outrage locally and internationally, and made western governments, investors and foreign news organisations nervous. Critics said the flawed bill, once enacted, will further complicate the already volatile service delivery, restrict free reporting and create a climate of fear and secrecy in the country - a strange trend in a nation that brags that it is Africa's democratic leader.
Seven-point Freedom Test
The seven points are:
1. Limit secrecy to core state bodies in the security sector such as police, defence and intelligence agencies
2. Limit secrecy to strictly-defined national security matters and no more. Officials must give reasons for making information secret
3. Exclude commercial information from this bill - partially met
4. Do not exempt the intelligence agencies from public scrutiny
5. Do not apply penalties for unauthorised disclosure to society at large, only those responsible for keeping secrets
6. Do not criminalise whistleblowers and journalists: the bill must protect those who release classified information if that information is in the public interest
7. An independent body appointed by Parliament, and not the minister of state security, should be able to review decisions about what may be made secret.
R2K national coordinator Murray Hunter said that, while the first three points and the seventh have only been partially met, the ruling party-sanctioned committee refuses to budge on the fourth, fifth and sixth.
One year of existence
R2k, a broad-based civil society organisation launched on 31 August 2010 in response to the controversial bill, will celebrate one year of its existence tomorrow, Wednesday, 31 August 2011.
"Today, after months of wrangling, and despite recent promising developments in the parliamentary deliberations, the Secrecy Bill still fails the Freedom Test," a disappointed Murray said in a statement.
The hottest point of the proposed legislation, according to critics, is clause 43, which stipulates that jail sentences of up to 15 years will be handed to anyone who possesses information relating in any way to any aspect of the security services. This is one of the demands (fourth point) Hunter said has not been met by the committee.
R2K's further demand (fifth point) is that, once information has been leaked at its source, the information should be considered part of the public domain.
"We should not be criminalised"
"We should not be criminalised for having access to it or sharing it. Moreover, as it stands, by demanding that any leaked documents be reported to the police or intelligence services (clause 18), the Secrecy Bill forces journalists to sell out their sources and invites securocrats to target whistleblowers within the administration."
He also said MPs in the ruling party in particular seem to be under tremendous pressure to harden their positions.
"Those working on the Bill should not be subject to oversight from officials in the ministry of state security, who continue to breathe down parliamentarians' necks after having pushed the current draft of the bill into Parliament in the first place," he said.
August 30, 2011 by Issa Sikiti
Source: www.bizcommunity.com/Article/196/466/63473.html (accessed: 31.08.2011)
South Africa's Protection of State Information Bill (also known as the Secrecy Bill) was finalized last week. The bill aims to safeguard state secrets and prescribes fines or jail sentences for up to 25 years to anyone who accesses classified information, according to a and a
Business needs to oppose secrecy bill
It is a progressive truism that business – the engine of prosperity, job creation and economic growth – can only flourish in a society where the flow of information is free and unfettered by undue state control.
Without the assurance that financial data is not manipulated, that vital information is not being suppressed and that government malfeasance is not being concealed, it is virtually impossible for the private sector to make the long-term, strategic investment decisions that are essential to its survival.
It is therefore in the interest of business to express itself more vociferously in opposition to the Protection of Information Bill which is being pushed through Parliament with a haste and zeal that suggest the government is determined to retreat into a self-protective environment of secrecy and concealment. This is terribly concerning and, given the wide range of concerns from a very broad range of South Africans, very difficult to understand.
South Africa's Secrecy Bill is a "threat" to Free Expression, says FAJ
The Federation of African Journalists (FAJ), the African Regional Organisation of the International Federation of Journalists (IFJ), condemns in the strongest terms possible the South Africa's proposed Protection of Information Bill (the Secrecy Law), terming it a foremost threat to freedom of information and freedom of expression in South Africa.
Protection of Information Bill which is currently before the South African parliament after being presented by the minister of state security is based on broadly defined and severely worded clauses of secrecy, national security and national interest. South African journalists have objected to the bill as a violation to freedom of expression. Journalists are also opposed to theproposed Media Appeals Tribunal.
"The bill in its present shape is deplorable and a travesty to freedom of the press, freedom of expression and the right of the people to access government information.
READ MORE HERE:
A new South African bill may be passed to curb the information that we share on this very blog.
Secrecy Bill's final meetings resume: 'secretive' SA in the making?
Lizette, Your signature has been delivered to: South African MP's & Government
The bill provides for a new regime for the classification of state information and for extremely harsh prison sentences for those who divulge state secrets. It has been claimed that the bill will sound the death knell of investigative journalism and whistle-blowing on state corruption.
The South African government is in the process of passing a law that will limit access to government information undermining transparency, accountability, and media freedom in South African. The Protection of Information Bill allows every organ of state - from government departments and parastatals to the smallest municipality - to throw a blanket of secrecy over its documents. If the law is passed whistle blowers leaking, and journalists reporting, on these documents can face up to 25 years in jail. The Bill goes before parliament this month and civil society are organizing to oppose it's passing.
South Africa:The Secrecy Bill: Speak Now or Forever be Gagged
…it is clear that unless many more speak out now, the ANC will use its parliamentary majority to pass a Bill that will 'normalise' the gagging of the very democracy that so many inside and outside this country struggled and sacrificed to realise. Simply put, we are at a point when the people of South Africa should put aside political party competition/loyalty, historic ideological divisiveness and personal interest. Everyone needs to stand up, speak out and put a stop to what now represents an enforced 'marriage' of elite convenience.
One of the main reasons why governments and ruling party's tend to get away with passing legislation that so patently violates both their own pronounced politico-moral principles and basic human (and in our case, constitutional) rights is because the majority of the citizenry remain silent. Such silence is all the more deafening in a democratic society where freedom of expression and freedom to access information are two of the foundational principles. Given that it is these two principles, these two fundamental rights that are now under serious threat from the Secrecy Bill it would be a tragic irony if they were not exercised to their fullest as part of the very struggle to prevent their demise.
The Protection of Information Bill is unconstitutional and anti-democratic
Posted on June 1st, 2011
Joint SECTION27/TAC statement
Transparent governance, free expression and a free press are essential components of democracy. They are the means by which all people in South Africa, especially the vulnerable and poor, can hold our government to account. Our effectiveness at getting the state to implement HIV treatment and prevention programmes has been dependent on the Constitution being upheld, especially the Bill of Rights.
We are therefore deeply concerned by reports that the ANC Parliamentary Caucus is backtracking even on its recent, inadequate concessions in relation to the Protection of Information Bill. As it stands, this bill will restrict media freedom. It will also severely limit the ability of organisations like ours to hold government accountable or to support government in working for a better life for all. The bill will drive a wedge between the state and the people it is supposed to serve.
We believe that the bill is unconstitutional and could have disastrous consequences for democracy should it be passed in its current form.
Mediavryheid | Freedom of media
LitNet nooi skrywers, joernaliste, uitgewers, redakteurs, vertalers, akademici en almal wat met die woord werk om op hierdie toegewyde protesbladsy kommentaar te lewer op die regering se beoogde inperking van media- en spraakvryheid. Stuur jou bydrae aan: email@example.com.
Etienne van Heerden
Uitvoerende redakteur: LitNet
LitNet extends an open invitation to writers, journalists, editors, publishers, translators, academics, and everyone else concerned with the written word to comment on the government's proposed restriction of freedom of media and of speech. Please send your contribution to: firstname.lastname@example.org.
Etienne van Heerden
Executive Editor: LitNet
Die ANC het gister sy meerderheidstem in die ad hoc-komitee gemoeid met die inligtingswet gebruik om die wetsontwerp deurgevoer te kry.
Opposisiepartye se teenkanting teen bepaalde klousules – soos dat diegene wat geheime inligting onthul, strafregtelik vervolg word – het geen uitwerking gehad nie.
Daar heers groot kommer in opposisiegeledere en onder menseregtegroepe dat die uitsluiting van 'n verweer van openbare belang vryheid van spraak aansienlik sal inkort. Dit sal beteken fluitjieblasers en joernaliste sal nie beskerming geniet wanneer hulle geheime inligting in die openbare belang aan die kaak stel nie.
Die ANC-regering se wetsvoorstel vir die Beskerming van Inligting het redakteurs warm onder die kraag gelaat, maar dr Johan Retief, adjunk-ombudsman, sê daar is tog ruimte vir beter selfregulering. Retief het Maandag 'n groep studente, joernaliste en belangstellendes by die MEDIAFRIKA-sentrum van die Joernalistiekdepartement toegespreek oor die tekortkominge en voorstelle vir die hersiening van die Suid-Afrikaanse Perskode.
All information retrieved from listed web sources (urls) on 2011-09-16, with thanks.
In the time it took me to compile this report, the objections to the new SA law on http://www.avaaz.org/en/stop_the_secrecy_bill/?rc=fb&pv=17 grew as follows:
Friday, September 16, 2011
Support YOUR RIGHT TO KNOW! 17 September from 10am to 1pm, thousands of South Africans will join in a march to Parliament to reject the final draft of the "Secrecy Bill".
In four days, MPs could pass an outrageous secrecy bill that undermines the constitution and South Africa's democracy -- helping the government keep wrongdoing from the people and enabling cover-ups of corruption and human rights abuses. But there are four people that could make or break this bill: the Chief Whips.
Posted by Lizette De Klerk at 10:03 AM