Secrecy Bill Passed

Posted: 29 November 2011 | News - MMA in the Media | Categories: Media Freedom and Performance

Big things have been happening in South Africa since Bob went there last month. On November 10, the ruling ANC party suspended its high-profile young firebrand, Julius Malema, for five years. Then this past Tuesday—labeled "Black Tuesday" by protestors—Parliament passed the Protection of State Information Bill, which will allow the government to imprison anyone who discloses state secrets for up 25 years. The bill lacks any clause to protect whistleblowers who disclose secrets in the public interest.

Many South Africans are saying the new secrecy bill marks the "death of democracy" in South Africa. The bill has not killed South Africa's democracy, yet. But it is a malignant cancer and that could eventually be fatal to South Africa's constitution and democracy. The ruling ANC party is moving against the press, which it sees as a white-controlled impediment to the party's continued rule. The ANC does not value the numerous corruption scandals uncovered by the press in the 17 years since the end of apartheid nor does it see the media as a valid force to hold the government accountable.
The new legislation and the recent appointment of a questionable Supreme Court chief justice show that President Jacob Zuma is working to dismantle, piece by piece, South Africa's hard won democracy.

I checked in with five of the guests who contributed to Bob's South Africa stories, which appeared on our October 21st episode, to see what they have to say about the new bill.  One of them was the Director of Media Monitoring Africa William Bird commented in a press release titled "Secrecy Bill: Bad for the country, Worse for South Africa's International Reputation". To see the full article go to "www.onthemedia.org"