7 May 2012

South Africa: MPs to Correct Public Hearings Reports

Reports on public hearings over the controversial Protection of State Information Bill have been tabled before MPs.

An ad hoc committee from the National Council of Provinces, which is looking into the bill, met on Friday with the intention of adopting the reports.

One of the reports is on hearings conducted across all the nine provinces by the committee while the other is on submissions that were made by various concerned stakeholders at Parliament.

But due to complaints by some of the MPs that the reports contained errors, the committee decided to adopt them once the mistakes were corrected.

One MP complained that the 60-page report from the provinces misrepresented them as it failed to specify which MPs visited what areas.

Committee chairperson Raseriti Tau, had asked his team of MPs to go through the reports last weekend and come up with a "basket of issues " which the committee discuss starting from tomorrow.

Tau said that the common matter raised by many was the question of the constitutionality of the bill as well as its lack of a public defence clause.

He said that once the committee finished discussing the reports, it would start debating the bill clause by clause.

He said that the committee would not go beyond next month to finalise the bill.

While the committee was in session, dozens of protesters from the vocal Right2know Campaign gathered outside Parliament to register their anger over the bill.

Some of them held placards with written messages such as "Stop the secrecy bill," "Free the Press,' and "Stop secrets."

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