The parliamentary ad-hoc portfolio committee on intelligence withdrew the controversial piece of legislation, which is designed to protect classified information, due to insufficient time to complete the work that the Bill demands, reports href=”http://www.businessday.co.za/articles/national.aspx?ID=BD4A868960″ target=_blank mce_href=”http://www.businessday.co.za/articles/national.aspx?ID=BD4A868960 “Business Day.
SANEF has objected to the Bill at public hearings, stating that the provisions are too broad – “(encompassing) practically every conceivable activity or conduct under the broad mantle of protecting the national interest. It (pays) scant attention to the constitutional ethos that South Africa should strive to be an open, transparent and accountable society and that classification of documents as secret should be described in the narrowest of terms,” according to a statement.
Says Khathu Mamaila, media freedom chairperson of the South African National Editors’ Forum (Sanef), “This bill is essentially about limiting the media’s freedom of expression, it is not practical from a journalist’s point of view.
“We are hoping that this withdrawal will give Parliament more time to re-look it and hopefully they will remove all those things that will make a journalist’s job difficult.”
According to SANEF the legislation “should be fashioned to pursue the principles of the Promotion of Access to Information Act by protecting the right to the widest possible access to information and where there is a requirement for preventing disclosure of information this should be on the narrowest of grounds, clearly defined with set limitations on the extent of secrecy”.
The Bill is to be presented to Parliament next year. SANEF says “extensive consultation with the media” should take place before then.
Says Mamaila: “We are in continuous consultation. We have a scheduled meeting with President Kgalema Motlanthe at the end of the month. I believe that with continuous lobbying, our grievances will be heard and attended to.”