Action on SA Secrecy Bill Delayed Until May

9 March 2012

South Africa’s National Council of Provinces on March 6 agreed to a resolution extending until May 17 the reporting deadline of the ad hoc committee dealing with the Protection of State Information Bill.

The ad hoc committee’s initial reporting deadline was April 8.

The delay would put off potential adoption, widely expedted, until after the meeting of the Open Government Partnership, of which South Africa is a Steering Committee member. The civil society members of the Steering Committee in December issued a statement  critical of the proposed “secrecy bill.” (See previous FreedomInfo.org report.)

An official summary of the ad hoc committee meeting said that more than 300 submissions had been received, and most Members indicated that they had not had a chance to read through all of them. The bill has recently been the subject of nation-wide hearings.

The summary said:

 “Members debated, and finally decided, that the public hearings originally scheduled for 13 to 15 March would not proceed, but that Members would meet on Wednesday 14 March to draw a short list of those who were to be invited to give oral submissions, and set new dates for the public hearings, which might be arranged during the Constituency period.  Members did not exclude the possibility that those who had already given presentations during the provincial visits could be invited again, as the Committee had not had a chance to interrogate issues during the provincial hearings.

The committee will try to have all submissions available on the parliamentary website, according to the summary.  

South Africa’s Parliament passed the POIB on Nov. 22. (See FreedomInfo.org report.)

For a recent report on the situation by the Right2Know Coalition, republished by FreedomInfo.org, see here.

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