20 February 2013

South Africa: Government Concerned Over 'Secrecy' Report

Government has raised concerns at a report by lobby group Right2Know, which, among other things, claimed that secrecy is on the rise in the state.

The report, released by the group on Monday, followed the State of the Nation Address delivered by President Jacob Zuma last week.

"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," Cabinet spokesperson and acting Government Communication and Information System CEO Phumla Williams said in a statement.

"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," she said.

Contrary to the Right 2 Know claim, in South Africa, transparency-reinforcing initiatives by government and civil society organisations tended to have a mutual foundation based on the country's impressive constitutional and legislation provisions.

Government had also stated that the Protection of State Information Bill would in fact have the effect of opening more bodies of information for public access, and will not restrict or hinder the flow of information.

Operational decisions

Williams said decisions about information security were dealt with operationally and in the best interest of the nation and communities.

There were judicial and administrative avenues that exist for South Africans to acquire information that these bodies 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".

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


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