The National Press Club on Sunday called on the National Assembly to reject the Protection of State Information Bill next year.
“Members of the National Council of Provinces who voted for the bill last week did so without keeping the Constitution and citizens' hard-fought right to information at heart,” the club's chair Antoinette Slabbert said.
She said the club welcomed the amendments made to the Bill but the re-drafted version still carried a threat of jail terms of up to 25 years.
“This smacks of apartheid-like legislation which the country's modern and liberal Constitution does not deserve. We therefore call on members of the National Assembly not to pass the Bill it in its current form next year,” Slabbert said.
She said passing the Bill in its current form would take it one step closer to a secrecy law.
“The state should not criminalise ordinary people for exercising their right to access information.”
The club called on its members to wear their “Black Tuesday” T-shirts on Tuesday as the struggle against the Bill was not over.
This past week, ANC MPs in the NCOP ad hoc committee passed the Bill.
ANC parliamentary spokesman Moloto Mothapo said it was not a media bill and did not “seek to regulate” the media.
Mothapo said it was not about hiding corruption, but about balancing classification of sensitive state information in the interest of national security.
The amended Bill was adopted by 34 votes to 16, and will go back to the National Assembly in the new year, where the ANC majority is likely to pass it.
Opposition parties vowed that if it was passed, they would approach the Constitutional Court to overturn the legislation, a threat also issued by the Right2Know campaign this past week. - Sapa