Cape Town - Red flags were briefly raised on Thursday when a collection of parliamentary papers contained the controversial Protection of State Information draft law and described it as “Act 41, 2013”.
Parliament moved quickly to dismiss concerns that the draft legislation, also dubbed the Secrecy Bill, had been sneaked through the legislative process during a period of national mourning for Madiba, saying the circulated document was merely an “act form” with no legal status whatsoever.
But this happened not before a Twitter flurry because bills, or draft laws, are usually only described as acts once the president has signed them into law.
“Act forms, basically, have no status until and unless assented to by the president by publication in the Government Gazette and by submission of the signed copy to the Constitutional Court for safekeeping in terms of the Constitution,” explained Parliament spokesman Luzuko Jacobs adding act forms were the product of bills passed by the national legislature. “The term ‘act form’ is used since it is not assented to yet, and therefore even the act number on the cover page may eventually be changed, depending on what the president decides.”
The Cape Argus has confirmed at this stage that Parliament has not yet sent the draft law to the president for his signature, as it is still subject to internal processes at the national legislature. If the president signs a law on to the statute books, it is reflected in the Announcements, Tablings and Committee Reports” (ATC), a record of Parliament’s work.