Cape Twon 271010 Alan Storey satnds in front of paliment protesting agains the Secrecy Bill. Close to 500 people marched to Parliment as part of the Right To Know Campaign to stop the Secrecy Bill. picture : neil baynes

The ruling African National Congress (ANC) used its voting power to muscle through the controversial Protection of State Information Bill in the National Assembly.

Because opposition parties had called for a division, MPs had to vote individually through an electronic system and not along party lines.

The result of Tuesday's vote was 229 MPs voted in favour of the bill, 136 voted against it and two MPs abstained.

Just before the vote ANC MP Llewellyn Landers, a former minister in the apartheid government of President PW Botha said the new draft law was aimed at replacing the Information Act that was promulgated in 1982, which had the original aim of suppressing information about the state.

Landers also said that the bill would give closure to anti-apartheid activists who were murdered during that time, although he did not make it clear how it would be done.

Landers also said the bill would not have a public interest defence clause because, “...it would do irrevocable harm to the state and the people of SA if a court should find that a whistleblower was found to have given information not out of public interest but out of maliciousness.”

Before Landers spoke opposition party speakers appealed to the ANC MPs to vote with their consciences.

The draft law will now go before the National Council of Provinces and if that house votes in favour of it, it will go to President Jacob Zuma to sign it into law. - I-Net Bridge