The National Assembly approved the amended version of the Critical Infrastructure Bill, which replaces the apartheid era law on national key points. Picture: Ian Landsberg/African News Agency (ANA).

Parliament - The National Assembly on Tuesday approved the amended version of the Critical Infrastructure Bill, which replaces the apartheid era law on national key points.

The bill will now go to President Cyril Ramaphosa for signing into law, after the National Council of Provinces made changes on provisions relating to cyber security.

The bill gives the police minister the discretion to declare certain installations critical infrastructure and prescribes how these are protected in the interest of national security. It was supported by opposition parties though it retains provisions red-flagged by information freedom advocates during a long drafting process.

They won concessions on information already in the public domain but failed to persuade lawmakers to include a public interest defence to shield whistle-blowers and media who publish classified information to expose wrongdoing from prosecution.

The bill replaces the National Key Points Act, which was famously invoked to cover up the lavish upgrades at former president Jacob Zuma's Nkandla home, and critics say the new legislation also leaves room for government to restrict critical media reporting.

Prominent media lawyer Dario Milo has submitted that the draft law risked the anomaly of criminalising the kind of disclosures that are allowed under the Protected Disclosures Act and the Promotion of Access to Information Act.

African News Agency (ANA)