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Strong opposition as ANC majority vote against freedom of information

23 November 2011

On Black Tuesday the strong sentiment shared by many was probably a combination of disillusionment and disbelief. Civil rights groups, media houses, nobel laureates, global media and ordinary citizens voiced strong opposition to the adoption of the so called “Secrecy Bill” by the National Assembly yesterday. The bill was adopted with 229 to 107 votes by the 400-member chamber.

Black Tuesday was a reality check for many. It’s a clear indication that the ANC majority no longer uphold the values of the constitution. Which makes no sense given that they fought so hard to put the values in place?

Although the bill was voted in by ANC MPs, it still has to follow a course where it is brought to the second house – the National Council of Provinces as well as to the public for review. Those who voted against the bill in parliament will be able to refer the bill for review by the Constitutional Court within 30 days of the president signing it into law.

But where to from here? If the ANC cannot uphold our constitutional rights, it is up to ordinary citizens, civil rights groups, the media and opposition parties to enforce these rights. The course the ANC have chosen was met with strong opposition and will continue to be met with opposition. The battle has just begun.

Black Tuesday does not mark the day the ANC majority voted for the “Secrecy Bill.” It marks the day we opposed the vote. And as protests were held in Johannesburg, Durban and in Cape Town the movement towards democracy was driven by the Right2Know campaign who joined forces and formed a coalition between Right2Know, TAC, Equal Education, SCAT and the Social Justice Coalition to mention a few.

Strong opposition was expressed in local media by Cosatu, SA National Editor’s Forum, Media Monitoring Africa (MMA), Helen Suzman Foundation, The United Association of South Africa (Uasa) and The South African Human Rights Commission (SAHRC).

The opposition to the vote caught the attention of global media including the BBC, New York Times, Aljazeera and Telegraph (UK).

And prior to the vote in parliament the vote was contested, debated and appealed by the IFP, Cope & DA. Senior ministers like Trevor Manuel warned that the party was betraying South Africans and its own struggle for democracy. Public Protector Thuli Madonsela wrote to the Speaker that the bill would impact on her work because she relies heavily on information from whistleblowers and the media. 

But here’s what can you do?

Join Right2Know Facebook Group and stay informed.

Or send an email To: infobill@parliament.gov.za
Subject: OBJECTION TO THE PASSING OF THE SECRECY BILL

I, ___________________, object to the passing of this bill for the following reasons:

To suggest that we, the public who have elected you to govern our interests as a society are not allowed to know what you are doing regarding the funds you receive from us and the deals that you make which are meant to benefit our nation is that of a draconian nature and certainly not of a democratic one.

 

 

 

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