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Almost half of South Africans say the Protection of State Information Bill will limit media freedom, according to a survey released on Thursday.
“Forty-four percent of South Africans believe that the proposed information bill will limit media freedom,” market research company Ipsos said in a statement.
Thirteen percent of respondents said the proposed legislation would not limit media freedom. A third - 29 percent - were neutral, and 14 percent of those surveyed had no opinion.
The poll was conducted on 3 565 South Africans between April and May this year.
When analysed along party lines, the survey found that 51 percent of Democratic Alliance supporters believe the bill will limit media freedom.
“ANC supporters display slightly more faith in the bill with a lower percentage - 44 percent - believing that the bill will limit freedom of the media,” Ipsos said.
The survey found six out of 10 South Africans agree with the statement that access to information and a free media are basic human rights.
On political lines, 62 percent of African National Congress supporters agreed, while some 68 percent of DA supporters shared this view.
Almost half of South Africans - 46 percent - said if the information bill became law it would be easier to hide corruption and fraud.
Fifty-five percent of DA supporters were of this view, compared to 44 percent of ANC supporters.
More than half of South Africans believe the government is not doing well in the fight against corruption in its ranks.
Seventy-two percent of DA supporters saw government as failing to fight corruption, in contrast to 42 percent of ANC supporters.
“On the flip side, just over half (53 percent) of ANC supporters give the government some credit and believe that it is performing well in fighting corruption,” Ipsos said.
The Protection of State Information Bill was passed by the National Assembly late last year following two years of sustained public opposition from media houses, rights groups and ANC ally, the Congress of SA Trade Unions.
An ad hoc committee of the National Council of Provinces looking into the bill was supposed to report back to the NCOP at the end of June. It, however, had to request an extension after ANC MPs and the department of state security deadlocked on proposed changes.
The department rejected proposals by the ruling party to give greater protection to whistle-blowers, to remove all minimum prison sentences from the bill, and to narrow the definition of national security. - Sapa