Amendments to POI Possible, South African Official Says

3 September 2010

A spokesman for the South African government said Sept. 2 that the controversial Protection of Information bill will be amended.

The comment following a Cabinet meeting came as groups launched a campaign against the proposed law. (See related report.)

According to a media account, spokesperson Themba Maseko said the government welcomed the representations received from interested parties and appreciated the public’s dedication and participation in the consultative processes enshrined in the Constitution.

“We reiterate that this process has not been completed and the bill is yet to be finalised.” he was quoted as saying.  “Government, through the minister of state security (Siyabonga Cwele), is considering the valuable submissions and representations made during the public hearings and are committed to accommodate the views expressed as far as practicable and reasonable.”

Cwele had been focusing on areas which might be broad and/or vague, and which had the potential to infringe on other rights enshrined in the Constitution, according to the news article, and will offer a comprehensive response when the ad hoc committee working on the bill meets next.

“Government hopes that its scrutiny of the representations and its response will go a long way towards meeting the recommendations made in the submissions and representations during the consultative process,” Maseko said.

TravelGate Disclosures

Meanwhile, new information emerged showing that some members of Parliament earn substantial amounts by driving to their home districts instead of flying, according to news stories.

A statement by Independent Democrats President and Parliamentarian Paricia De Lille described her lengthy effort to get the information.

She concluded by opposing the Protection of Information Bill, noting:  

“The fact is that even without this Bill, it is already difficult enough to get hold of information. If as a country we allow the ANC to push this Bill through Parliament, then we face a very bleak future. I would like to call on all South Africans who support freedom and truth to write letters to Government, to phone in to radio stations and to write to newspapers to voice your opposition. We cannot allow them to hijack our Freedom.”

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