Parliament, Cape Town -
Political parties in Parliament will again meet privately in a bid to reach consensus on the controversial Protection of State Information Bill.
“The process of party-to-party engagements will continue in an attempt to try and find each other,” Raseriti Tau, chairman of the National Council of Provinces ad hoc committee dealing with the bill, said on Tuesday.
“We're not that far apart and that's a good sign,” he told MPs after a briefing by the state security department.
Dennis Dlomo, acting director general for the department, briefed MPs on various technical issues related to proposed amendments to the bill.
In May the ANC proposed several changes to the legislation, relating to the possession and disclosure of classified information.
The ruling party wanted the words “ought reasonably to have known” to be excluded from section 49 of the bill Ä to protect people unaware that they were disclosing classified information.
On Tuesday, Dlomo told the NCOP committee his department wanted the words retained.
Dlomo did not respond to the call for a public interest defence.
The ANC had proposed an alternative which would see journalists and whistle-blowers being exempt from prosecution, provided they exposed corruption and other crimes.
The move was welcomed by opposition parties, but the Democratic Alliance wanted wider protection for journalists and others who publicised information in the public interest.
The committee adjourned on Tuesday, with an agreement that parties would negotiate behind closed doors, before MPs convened deliberations again. - Sapa