Debating the controversial Protection of Information Bill ‘hysterically” would not help people who had concerns about it, ANC veteran Pallo Jordan said on Tuesday.
‘We need to debate it honestly and not hysterically. Debating it hysterically only adds heat,” he said in Durban during a debate on media diversity.
The Bill has been met with opposition mainly from media practitioners who have argued it would make it impossible for journalists to carry out their work.
Jordan called for a “sober debate” on the Bill, saying that secrecy Bills had a purpose.
“There is no country that has no secrets. The purpose of the Bill is to protect secrets of this country. All we have to do is to take part in the debate.”
Jordan was responding to a comment made by former KwaZulu-Natal government spin doctor and former journalist Bheki Ncube.
“The Bill is not going to improve service delivery. I don’t know why the ANC is pushing for it. Some of the things that the ANC does make me think that this is not the ANC I grew up in,” said Ncube.
He said the ANC had sent Jordan to pacify the intellectuals.
Jordan reacted angrily to Ncube’s comment, saying that he had not been sent by the ANC to attend the debate.
‘I have noticed that former journalists like to make assumptions. The ANC did not send me here to participate. I have also not been sent by government because I am no longer in government.”
Surprised at reaction to New Age
Jordan said he was surprised at how media organisations had reacted to the introduction of the new pro-government New Age newspaper.
“There has been a negative response from other titles and commentators. It is either they don’t like the competition or they don’t want a paper which will approach stories differently,” he said.
It was a very odd response, he said.
The New Age is funded by the Gupta Group, which has close links to the ANC.
Its launch was postponed for the third time last week after its senior editorial staff including its editor, Vuyo Mvoko, resigned. – Sapa