Concern is growing in South Africa over the passing of a piece of legislation that could, if passed into law, restrict freedom of the press in the country and jeopardise government transparency.
According to Iqbal Jassat for the Media Monitors Network, the African National Congress (ANC) is in the process of passing the Protection of Information Bill, which would allow “classification of information associated with commercial contracts entered into by government, state-owned enterprise and state entities”.
At the heart of the current debate are two significant developments: a new piece of legislature before parliament titled the Protection of Information Bill; and the disclosure by the ANC that a media tribunal, a system of state regulation is back on the agenda.
While the purpose of the bill is to replace apartheid-era secrets act with a democratic framework of information protection, a range of submissions warning of its draconian nature has raised serious concerns.
The Protection of Information Bill can be downloaded from: www.info.gov.za