Protesters march to Parliament in Cape Town against the so-called secrecy bill on Saturday, 17 September 2011. The march was organised by Right2Know (R2K), a grouping of 400 civil society organisations that began fighting the controversial bill a year ago.The final draft of the bill is set to go before the National Assembly on Tuesday. It will then have to go to the National Council of Provinces for concurrence, before being signed into law by President Jacob Zuma. Picture: Nardus Engelbrecht/SAPA

The feedback from communities in Gugulethu and Thembalethu at the first public hearings into the draft Protection of State Information Bill on Tuesday is a harsh wake-up call for the ANC, a Democratic Alliance MP said.

Alf Lees, DA member of the National Council of Provinces for KwaZulu-Natal who attended the hearing, said successive speakers at the hearings had voiced their opposition to the proposed legislation.

This evoked “spirited applause” at the hearing at the Gugulethu Sports Complex.

“With some speakers calling for the withdrawal of the bill and even a general referendum, it is becoming increasingly apparent that the ANC simply ignored or underestimated the public outcry over the legislation,” Lees said.

“Members of the community questioned government’s intentions with the bill, referring to increasing exposure of corruption by the media and civil society.”

Lees said he hoped that feedback from South Africans at public hearings across the country would embolden the NCOP committee to make “substantive and meaningful” amendments to the draft legislation. - Sapa