DURBAN:010112 Little Uyanda Cele of Lamontville was with her mother Nombulelo - they were amongst those gathered outside the president's official Durban residence, Dube House in Morningside to plead with President Jacob Zuma not to sign the Protection of information bill. PICTURE:GCINA NDWALANE

Durban - A vigil was held on Thursday night at the official Durban residence of the president in Morningside, where the Right2Know campaigners urged President Jacob Zuma not sign into law the Protection of State Information Bill.

About 60 people - some with their babies, others in school uniform - from Wentworth, Lamontville, uMlazi, KwaMakhutha, Durban North and Merebank gathered there, singing pro-ANC songs, but all against what is known as the secrecy bill.

Desmond D’Sa, spokesman for the Right2Know campaign, said it would take the matter to the Constitutional Court even if Zuma signed it.

“Apply your mind Zuma, take this bill for redraft in Parliament, or review it at the Constitutional Court.

“This bill undermines everything the ANC has fought for, the message is clear, even if he signs the bill, we will escalate actions as the Right2Know campaigners, in every corner, in every street,” he promised.

He said the people had come out to fight against secrecy, which would lead them to never owning homes.

“The people want to know if government is serious about benefiting their lives, we are saying to Zuma, talk to the common man in the street, get his views, we don’t want to see whistle-blowers and journalists in jail,” he said.

D’Sa said the gap between the rich and the poor was concerning, and said if the bill was passed, corruption under the “tender regime” would soar and many people would see no benefit.

Morningside DA ward councillor Martin Meyer, said the fight was not over and said the DA was urging Zuma not to sign.

“We are committed to fight for freedom, if we don’t know, we cannot make informed decisions,” he said.

“We have lived in a society like this before, under (John) Vorster and (PW) Botha, and now we are going back to what the ANC fought against,” he said.

In a letter sent to the president, the Right2Know listed its demands:

* We demand a just and limited classification law that promotes our constitutional rights.

* We demand a full Public Interest Defence.

* We demand full whistle-blower protection.

* Don’t criminalise the public as spies.

* Limit the bill to the security agencies.

* Include a Public Domain Defence.

* Reduce draconian sentences.

* Don’t undermine the Promotion of Access to Information Act.

* We demand an independent review panel.

* Let the apartheid truth be told.

* Defend our democracy.

The Daily News established on Thursday that the campaigners from Lamontville, had been part of 39 families that were displaced last December when floods destroyed their shacks. The 39 families have been living at a community hall since and have not been provided temporary homes as promised at the time of the incident.

They said the councillor would not clarify reasons for the delay.

Daily News