The draft Protection of Information Bill does not pass constitutional muster, the General Council of the Bar of South Africa (GCB) said on Friday.
As is customary, the Bill was provided to the GCB for its comment, and the council has submitted its report to the relevant parliamentary committee.
In its report, the GCB raised several concerns about the content of the Bill.
While the Bill contained certain useful provisions, it also contained a number of provisions that were plainly inconsistent with, and indeed contrary to, the foundational values of the Constitution, the GCB said.
These included those of openness and transparency in government and the accountability of government to the electorate.
Section 1(d) of the Constitution provided that the Republic of South Africa is a democratic state founded on the values of, among others, accountability, responsiveness and openness.
The Constitutional Court had recently remarked that “[the] systemic requirements of openness in our society flow from the very founding values of our Constitution, which enjoin our society to establish democratic government under the sway of constitutional supremacy and the rule of law in order, among other things, to ensure transparency, accountability and responsiveness in the way courts and all organs of state function”.
“The GCB is of the view that several of the provisions of the Bill are inimical to these foundational values of our Constitution,” it said. — Sapa