A protester holds a placard reading 'Secret State, don't let the info bill see the light of day" during a anti secrets bill protest at parliament in the city of Cape Town, South Africa, Tuesday, Nov 22, 2011. South African lawmakers have approved a committee report recommending passage of a bill to protect state secrets. The bill is expected to be passed later Tuesday, though critics say it will stifle expression. Retired Archbishop Desmond Tutu and prominent writers led by Nobel laureate Nadine Gordimer have lobbied against the bill. (AP Photo/Schalk van Zuydam)

Cape Town - The Southern African Catholics Bishops' Conference (SACBC) has joined calls for President Jacob Zuma to refer the controversial Protection of State Information Bill to the Constitutional Court.

While there had been dramatic changes to the bill, it remained an “unsatisfactory piece of legislation”, Catholic Archbishop of Cape Town Stephen Brislin said on Friday.

“It lacks a full public interest defence and will thus make the fight against corruption more difficult,” he said.

“To fight corruption we need more openness, not more secrecy.”

The SACBC wanted Zuma to send the bill to the Constitutional Court to avoid a protracted and costly court battle.

“On the eve of the celebration of Freedom Day, there is an opportunity for President Zuma to subject this bill to the Constitutional Court for further deliberation and so to protect the democracy which we all cherish,” said Breslin.

Opposition parties and civil society organisations have indicated they intend launching a legal challenge should Zuma sign the contentious bill into law.

Parliament passed the proposed law on Thursday, after three years of debate and redrafting.

It adopted the bill by 189 votes to 74, with one abstention. - Sapa