South Africa Again Delays Work on Secrecy Bill

21 June 2012

Approval of the controversial South African secrecy bill has been postponed again.

With Parliament heading into recess, the National Council of Provinces extended until the end of September the reporting deadline of the committee examining the bill.

Recently,, state security officials have objected not only to the bill, but to amendments proposed by members of the ruling African National Congress.

“National Assembly Speaker Max Sisulu has expressed concern about the “quality” of legislation produced by the institution, and so there is pressure on the committee to produce a bill that would pass constitutional muster,” according to an article in The Independent.

The paper also reported:

Sources close to the committee said yesterday that its members would not accept the department’s dismissal of their proposals.

“If (MPs from) the ruling party and the department disagree, you can imagine, it’s a political minefield,” said the source, who asked to remain anonymous.

The source said ANC MPs were not reconsidering their proposed amendments, despite the department’s protestations. The opinions of people like advocate George Bizos, who had criticised the bill, would outweigh the input of the department.

“The committee’s quite adamant that it wants to make changes.”

Chairman of the committee Papi Tau said it was important to extend the deadline to allow MPs time to “deal” properly with the bill. “Obviously we’d like a good product that passes constitutional muster.”

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