Secrecy Bill: Ben Turok won’t defy ANC this time

In a statement explaining his decision, Turok said that changes to the contentious legislation were qualitative and not superficial. But he admitted he did not himself follow the changes made to the Bill, and relied on briefs by his colleagues as well as press reports.

"Because of the tortuous passage of the Bill through the National Council of Provinces, I have been unable to track all the changes. This is no excuse, as I have a responsibility to know what I vote for, but there are limits to how much ground one can cover … I therefore have to some extent make a judgment on the basis of press reports and discussions with colleagues. I have been briefed by colleagues on the changes and am assured that they are qualitative, not superficial," he said.

"Nevertheless, I am not wholly satisfied but understand that the Bill will certainly land up in the Constitutional Court.

"My previous action was meant as a protest against what I considered an obnoxious Bill. A protest is just that, it is not more than that. An individual action has limited effect."

Turok abstained from the vote in 2010 when the ANC imposed a three-line whip on its MPs. ANC spokesperson Jackson Mthembu at the time accused Turok of "ill-discipline" and said his conduct would be handled "internally".

"In the light of the enormous support I received for my previous stance, I find it necessary to indicate my present position," he said.

"It is clear that the Parliamentary process has run its full course and that the relevant committees are exhausted. I therefore feel it is time for others to take up the debate, and rely on the good judgment of our top  lawyers to decide," Turok added. 

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Sarah Evans
Sarah Evans

Sarah Evans interned at the Diamond Fields Advertiser in Kimberley for three years before completing an internship at the Mail & Guardian Centre for Investigative Journalism (amaBhungane). She went on to work as a Mail & Guardian news reporter with areas of interest including crime, law, governance and the nexus between business and politics. 

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