Alf Lees MP
DA Member of the NCOP for KwaZulu-Natal
Survey results released yesterday by Ipsos show that almost half of South Africans believe that the Protection of State Information Bill will limit media freedom and will make it easier to hide corruption and fraud.
Parliament’s public consultation process on the Bill showed that South Africans are overwhelmingly opposed to it being passed in its current form.
Ipsos’ survey underscores this point.
The DA will continue to push for amendments to the Bill to ensure that it does not impact on the fundamental democratic and constitutional rights of South Africans.
The findings of the Ipsos survey echo those of research conducted by the DA, which suggests that only 4% of South Africans support the Bill.
The Ipsos survey also found that six out of ten South Africans believe that access to information and media freedom are basic human rights.
This research once again highlights the need for comprehensive amendments ensuring that the Bill is aligned with our Constitution and the values of a democratic society. The public, all opposition parties, state organs like the Public Protector and the Human Rights Commission, as well as civil society groups and media bodies are in agreement about the problems relating to the Bill.
The DA will use the extended discussion on the Bill to continue pushing for key amendments, including:
* Ensuring that the Bill does not trump PAIA;
* a strengthened amendment to provide for public interest defence and override;
* provision for direct access to the Classification Review Panel; and
* the introduction of the principle of “severance” to ensure that only information contained in a document that needs to be classified is classified, instead of the entire document.
We will also push for Department of State Security officials to desist from their attempts to counter amendments that the committee makes. These amendments are based on large volume of substantive submissions from civil society. The Department must play its correct role of advising the committee on technical aspects of any amendments proposed by the committee.
We have to ensure that South Africans remain confident in their constitutional right to access information. In its current form, the Secrecy Bill clearly does not inspire such confidence.