Sanef is saddened by the decision of 229 ANC members of Parliament to vote in favour of the Protection of State Information Bill today.
South Africans from all sectors of society have made it clear that they believe the bill is a danger to democracy, and a threat to their rights. We had hoped MPs would hear the clamour at the gates of the legislature, but they chose to stop their ears.
Editors from around the country observed the debate in the National Assembly, and were struck by the intensity with which opposition parties sought to repudiate the bill in its current form and to delay its passage.
After the final vote, the editors rose as one and left the public gallery in protest. This need not be the end of the road, however. The remaining serious flaws in the bill can still be remedied in the National Council of Provinces, or returned to Parliament by President Jacob Zuma. If that doesn’t happen, the Bill has only one destination: the Constitutional Court.
Sanef hopes legal action won’t be necessary, and that the occupants of the people’s parliament will seize this last chance to do the right thing. This bill has been the source of much division in our country and the battles around it undermined the nation-building and cohesion we developed in the run-up to, and during, the World Cup. The damage to our reputation as an international beacon of democratic behaviour and good governance is immeasurable. Sanef will continue to work with fraternal organisations and civil society formations to stop this bill.
We will also engage with ANC and government leadership on this matter with the objective of finding a solution that builds and supports South Africa’s constitutional democracy.