Alf Lees MP
DA Member of the NCOP
The DA welcomes remarks by Deputy President Kgalema Motlanthe that he would support the proposal that President Jacob Zuma should send the Protection of State Information Bill to the Constitutional Court for a decision on its constitutionality before signing it into law. This is another indication that the ANC is slowly bowing to pressure from the opposition and the public around this controversial bill.
In an address to journalists in Cape Town last night, the Deputy President said that he would not hesitate to say to the President to send it to the Constitutional Court before assenting to it. This follows the significant concessions made by the ANC in deliberations in the Ad Hoc Committee on the Protection of State Information Bill in the National Council of Provinces (NCOP) yesterday. We do, however, want further amendments to be made before the Bill goes back to the National Assembly and from there to the President. These include: the removal of provincial archives from the provisions of the Bill, amendments to the “opt-in” clause and the removal of all minimum sentences.
The DA will initiate this Section 79 process if the Bill does not emerge from the legislative process in conformity with the constitution. We will then petition the President by pointing out the constitutional shortcomings and asking him to send the Bill back to the National Assembly in terms of section 79 (1). If after that process there are still problem areas, the President can refer it to the Constitutional Court in terms of section 79 (4).
The DA, along with other opposition parties, will continue to drive this issue in the NCOP and the National Assembly until we have a bill which is in line with the Constitution.