The Office of the ANC Chief Whip welcomed the National Assembly's passage of the Protection of State Information Bill on Tuesday.

Spokesman Moloto Mothapo said the Protection of State Information Bill was essentially a security bill, not a media bill.

He said it was aimed at protecting the national security of the country.

“It is firmly in line with best international practice as states have constitutional obligations to protect their people and territorial integrity.”

He said the Bill was a consequence of the acknowledgement that there were still inconsistencies and discrepancies in the current Protection of Information Act, of 1982, which presently regulates protection of disclosure of certain information.

“A review of the current Act revealed that it is outdated, as it contains some provisions that are contrary to the Constitution and other legislation in that it contains legal presumptions which are deemed to be unconstitutional.”

He said the rights of whistleblowers were not prejudiced in any manner.

“The Bill provides that any person who unlawfully and intentionally discloses classified information in contravention of the Act is guilty of an offence, except where such disclosure is protected under the Protected Disclosures Act, 26 of 2000.”

The Protected Disclosures Act, commonly referred to as the “Whistleblowers Act”, sets out detailed procedures and steps that whistleblowers must follow when disclosing unlawful activities, incompetence or corruption in organs of state.

“The Bill does not interfere with these rights of whistleblowers,” he said.

He said the ANC prefers an approach where if anyone comes across classified information and wants to use it, that person must follow the procedures set out in the Bill and apply for permission to do so.

“The Bill also has a faster procedure where a person can apply for access to classified information if it is linked to an imminent and serious public safety or environmental risk.” - Sapa