Government was kind enough to spend some of our money selling the secrecy Bill to us. Here's a translation of what they really meant.
Italics are the original state-approved advert, from the transcript in the story kindly provided by the Daily Maverick, the website with the time to do that sort of thing. Translation by Chris Roper. Listen to the podcast here.
Female Voice: Are you following the debate about this new law everyone is talking about? Something about state information?
Female Voice: Hello. (simpers). Could you explain this new secrecy Bill thingie to me? In teeny little words, because I really need a big boy like you to help me understand.
Male Voice: Yes. And I see you are looking a little bit worried. All this stuff about identity theft, people being long dead but collecting pensions.
Male Voice: [condescending, kind] Babes! Don’t worry! All this stuff about identity theft, aliens stealing your car, your chipped fingernails—that’ll all disappear once we have our Secrecy Bill.
Female Voice: But what about corruption? How will the government deal with that?
Female Voice: [Excited] Ooh! But what about nasty old corruption? How will the government deal with that?
Male Voice: The Bill makes it clear that if people try to cover up corruption they will go to jail for up to 15 years, and whistleblowers will be protected.
Male Voice: [Earnestly] If you don’t read the Bill too closely, you’ll see it clearly says that you can trust us to take care of corruption. We’ve had people like Msholozi and Mac in the government for ages, I think you can trust these experts to know what to do about corruption. Don’t worry your pretty little head. Trust papa.
Female Voice: That’s good. But will we still be able to get the information we need from the government?
Female Voice: Ooh, that’s good. You make me feel so ... safe. But will we still be able to get the information we need from the government?
Male Voice: Yes. Our Constitution gives us that right. As for the press, the Bill doesn’t suppress press freedom at all. When you want information that is classified, you just have to apply for it. If you are still not happy, you can go to court and the judge will decide if it is in everyone’s interest.
Male Voice: Eish, honeybunny, quit worrying! Our Constitution clearly states that whatever information the government thinks you need, they have to give it to you. And as for the press, the Bill doesn’t suppress press freedom at all. The press still has the absolute right to publish anything we decide they can publish. If you want classified information, you just have to apply for it. We’ll get back to you as soon as possible, or never, whichever doesn’t come first. And if you’re ungrateful enough to not take no for an answer, you can go to court and the judge will tell you no in a more expensive way.
Female Voice: “Yes, sounds reasonable.”
Female Voice: [breathlessly aroused] Wow, that sounds so reasonable. Like when you guys said that we should buy all those big ships and guns and sexy stuff.
Male Voice: The thing is that government has to protect its information from criminals. There are spies out there that want to steal our information to develop their own countries at our expense.
Male Voice: [screams, demagogue-style] WE HAVE ENEMIES EVERYWHERE! Spies want to steal our information, to develop their own countries at our expense. They’re just jealous of our superb education, fantastic employment rate and commitment to the Chinese dream. They’ll steal it! We must protect our information!
Female Voice: I see. I want to familiarise myself with the Bill more. There’s so much I didn’t know.
Female Voice: Right, right! I see. You’re so clever. I want to familiarise myself with the Bill more, and possibly also have your babies. There’s so much you could teach me!
Male Voice: Great, ‘cause it’s really important that government protects its information. It is about protecting our country and its hard-won freedom. Ensuring that we all live in peace, security and prosperity.
Male Voice: [creepy voice] How clever of you. Because it’s really important that government protects its information, especially the bits where an uneducated citizen might think we’re ripping off the people. It is about protecting our country and its hard-won freedom to accept bribes. Ensuring that we all live in peace, security and prosperity, and don’t have to worry about silly things like being caught.
Rich, unctuous voice, like a fat cat purring: This advert was paid for by money donated in the form of your taxes. Thanks, suckers.