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ANC can’t fool people on ‘secrecy bill’ – DA

The ANC cannot fool South Africans into thinking there is broad support for the Protection of State Information Bill, the DA said on Tuesday.

Demonstrators protest against the passing of the Protection of State Information Bill outside Parliament in Cape Town. Credit: Reuters

The so-called “secrecy bill” is centre stage in Parliament again this week, as various civil society groups, state organs and the media make oral submissions to the National Council of Provinces ad hoc committee on the draft legislation.

At a recent public meeting in Khayelitsha in Cape Town, the DA, along with all opposition parties in Parliament, committed itself to continue challenging the draft legislation in its current form and to push for significant amendments, DA spokesman Alf Lees said.

The DA’s stance was emboldened by the objections about the bill raised by a vast number of civil bodies, media institutions and members of the public arguing that the legislation infringed on the rights of individuals, posed a threat to media freedom and undermined the fight against corruption.

“Research conducted by the DA suggests that only four percent of South Africans support the bill, which further necessitates comprehensive amendments to ensure that the bill is aligned with our Constitution and the values of a democratic society,” Lees said.

With the significant and clear backing of the public, all opposition parties, state organs such as the Public Protector and the SA Human Rights Commission, as well as various civil society groups and media bodies, the DA would push for these amendments.

These included a public interest defence, a strengthened public interest override, a sufficiently limited definition of “national security”, and a review of sections pertaining to almost all offences, such as the possession and disclosure of classified information.

“The ANC cannot fool the people of South Africa into thinking there is broad support for the secrecy bill.

“The ANC members of the ad hoc committee must heed the mass opposition to the bill along with the continued calls for a public interest defence, and make the necessary changes to the legislation demanded by South Africans,” Lees said. – Sapa

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