The South African Chapter of the Media Institute of Southern Africa (MISA-SA), has been deeply alarmed at the contents of the Protection of Information Bill and the proposals by the African National Congress (ANC) to set up a statutory Media Appeals Tribunal. MISA-SA fears that both will clamp down on the free flow of information and the media's ability to gather and publish information for the benefit of the public.
Protection of Information Bill
In 2009 the Unemployed People’s Movement (UPM) submitted a request in terms of the Promotion of Access to Information Act of 2000. We filled in the forms in January 2010 requesting all the documents pertaining the hiring of Human Resource Manager Mr Ndwayana, including the information pertaining the hiring of Library East cleaner. We submitted the request because we were quite aware that in terms of the hiring policy, a candidate who gets the highest score must be eligible to fill the vacant post.
The South African chapter of the Media Institute of Southern Africa (MISA-SA) is deeply concerned with the host of legislative and policy proposals under discussion. The Broadcasting Bill, Protection of Information Bill and Media Appeals Tribunal are significantly threatening media freedom in South Africa. The proposed legislation and policy seeks to oversee and control how the media must be regulated.
Civil society organisations express deep apprehension at the recent attempts to strangle the media and the freedom of expression in South Africa. On 3 August, Sunday Times journalist Mzilikazi wa Afrika was arrested by a large posse of policemen in what appear to be intimidating tactics. He was arrested without a warrant for purportedly being in the possession of a forged letter announcing the resignation of the premier of Mpumalanaga province.
Civil Society Statement on Protection of Information Bill
Let the Truth be Told - Stop the Secrecy Bill!
Newspapers like the Mail & Guardian that expose corruption, mismanagement, hypocrisy and gross incompetence would not be able to do their work if the Protection of Information Bill came into force in its current form. This is according to its editor-in-chief, Nic Dawes.
Dawes has described the Bill as the biggest legislative threat yet to freedom of information in general and to the work of journalists in particular.
The Helen Suzman Foundation notes with concern the introduction of the Protection of Information Bill. While we concede that every state needs to maintain its national security, the Bill’s understanding of the “national interest” is so broadly defined as to raise questions about the intention of the Bill.
The Black Sash would like to add its voice to the many others that have been raised in opposition to the proposed ‘Protection of Information Bill’ now before Parliament for a second time. We urge the government to withdraw it once again, and redraft it in such a way that it provides for the real national interest, which is “to promote the free flow of information within an open and democratic society”.