19 February 2013

South Africa: Government Refutes R2K's Unfounded Claims

press release

President Jacob Zuma has hit back at opposition parties, who criticized him for his lacklustre speech, on the last day of debate of the State of the ... ( Resource: Jacob Zuma's Day at the State of Nation Debate

Government has noted a Right2Know (R2K) publication that was released yesterday entitled, 'Secret State of the Nation 2013,' and is concerned that the preposterous claims that secrecy is on the rise in the State is unsubstantiated and speculative. The South African Government has not in any way or on any occasion set out to make - as the R2K campaign alleges a "critical year" marked by secrecy.

South Africa transformed from a racially exclusive, closed and secretive apartheid State to a fully-fledged democratic State and transparency and public accountability are daily and practical features in this administration. In South Africa, transparency-reinforcing initiatives by government and civil society organisations tend to have a mutual foundation based on the country's impressive constitutional and legislation provisions.

With regards to the careless accusations made by R2K regarding access to information, government has clearly stated that the Protection of State Information Bill will in fact have the effect of opening more bodies of information for public access, and will not restrict or hinder the flow of information.

Phumla Williams Acting GCIS CEO said, "In fact, decisions about information security are dealt with operationally and in the best interest of the nation and communities. There are judicial and administrative avenues that exist for South Africans to acquire information that they feel ought to be disclosed more extensively. Over and above that, public servants are officially tasked with complying with the relevant rules and regulations."

Government places on record, contrary to R2K's views, that disclosure of political party funding is a matter for public discussion rather than governmental dictate, and this discussion should be allowed to run its course.

"President Jacob Zuma's said in his recent State of the Nation Address that everything we do as a Government is guided by our Constitution and called on all citizens to celebrate, promote and defend our Constitution. This is an explicit invitation to South Africans to join government in building a better society and prosperous economy."

South Africans have a right to know how government approaches openness, and that the R2K campaign misrepresents this reality and is acting against the grain of the vision of building a better South Africa that belongs to those who live in it.

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