14 November 2012

South Africa: DA Welcomes Postponement of Secrecy Bill Debate

press release

The DA was unable to attend the meeting of the Ad Hoc Committee on the Protection of State Information Bill today. This meeting was decided on yesterday at the last minute and was set to finalise the Bill ahead of the debate on 15 November.

The debate has since been postponed to 29 November and we welcome this move as it will give us more time to reach consensus on the Bill. If the debate had gone ahead tomorrow as scheduled, the Committee would have been sending through a Bill that had not been sufficiently amended.

The DA was shocked by certain proposals the ANC made yesterday at what we thought were to be the final deliberations on the Bill. These included the reinsertion of clause 1(4), which would allow the Bill to trump the Promotion of Access to Information Act (PAIA), as well as the removal of the blanket protection now included in clause 43.

We are committed to ensuring that we send through a Bill that is in line with the Constitution.

We do not see the point of rushing through Parliament a Bill that will have such far-reaching consequences for the South African public. This would be nonsensical and a dereliction of our duty as public representatives.

We will not run away or chicken out of ensuring that this Bill is in line with the Constitution.

The DA hopes that the ANC will use this time wisely to make the amendments that are still required and not backtrack any further.

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