Information Bill ‘will undo SA’s good work’

The Protection of Information Bill currently in Parliament will set South Africa back in terms of freedom of information, an African Union (AU) special rapporteur said on Wednesday.

“If we pass the present Bill, it will undo the good work the Republic of South Africa has done to ensure freedom of information,” said Pansy Tlakula, the AU’s special rapporteur for media and freedom of expression.

Tlakula was speaking at the launch of the Gauteng branch of the Right2Know campaign.

Freedom of Expression Network coordinator Siphiwe Segodi said the campaign would explain to communities why the Protection of Information Bill was a threat.

“It’s not just journalists, but activists who are fighting for service delivery,” said Segodi. “Its important that we continue fighting on the community level.”


‘Apocalyptic arrogance’
Meanwhile, South African writer Andre Brink believes the ANC’s proposed media appeals tribunal and the Protection of Information Bill showed “apocalyptic arrogance”.

“Twenty years ago the most famous prisoner in the world, Nelson Mandela, walked out of jail and began the process of leading his people to democracy,” Brink wrote for the New York Times on September 11.

“Today, that new South Africa faces its starkest challenge yet in the form of two pieces of anti-press legislation that would make even the most authoritarian government proud,” continued the author of novels such as Dry White Season and Looking on Darkness.

He said the euphoria surrounding the release of Mandela and the new South Africa began to erode soon after he left office.

In the face of corruption and abuse of power, the right of the press and the people to express themselves were offered as a remedy, but that was eroding. It was seen with former president Thabo Mbeki, and current President Jacob Zuma had ushered in “a new kind of silence”.

“His proposed legislation betrays a dangerous attitude toward the word, written or spoken. It has been said that the prime function of the word is to interrogate silence; but if silence becomes sequestered beyond the reach of words, of language, of the press, of literature, that space becomes inhabited by lies and distortions, pretences and subterfuges and inadequacies of all kinds.”

He believed the proposals recalled the “worst of the apartheid regime”.– Sapa

These are unprecedented times, and the role of media to tell and record the story of South Africa as it develops is more important than ever. But it comes at a cost. Advertisers are cancelling campaigns, and our live events have come to an abrupt halt. Our income has been slashed.

The Mail & Guardian is a proud news publisher with roots stretching back 35 years. We’ve survived thanks to the support of our readers, we will need you to help us get through this.

To help us ensure another 35 future years of fiercely independent journalism, please subscribe.

Advertising

The case against Floyd Shivambu

The flow of money from VBS Bank would seem to suggest that the EFF’s second-in-command was an ultimate beneficiary of proceeds of a crime

Cabinet reshuffle rumours: Unlikely to happen any time soon, but…

Persistent rumours of a cabinet reshuffle may be jumping the gun, but they do reflect the political realignment taking place within the ANC

Gauteng responds to grave concern

The news of Gauteng’s grave site preparations raised alarm about the expected number of Covid-19-related deaths in the province

Nigeria’s anti-corruption boss arrested for corruption

Ibrahim Magu’s arrest by the secret police was a surprise — but also not surprising
Advertising

press releases

Loading latest Press Releases…

The best local and international journalism

handpicked and in your inbox every weekday