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National Assembly passes Information Bill

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National Assembly passes Information Bill

by Francis Hweshe
22 Nov 2011
BuaNews Online
BuaNews Online

Despite stiff opposition, Parliament's National Assembly has voted overwhelmingly in favour of the Protection of State Information Bill.

The Bill, supported largely by the African National Congress (ANC) on Tuesday saw 229 MPs in the house voting for it, with 107 against.

The Bill has attracted a lot of opposition from the media who have expressed concern that it would impinge on their freedom of expression and make it more difficult to access information which would be of public interest.

A large number of journalists and activists clad in black in what has been called "black Tuesday" witnessed the proceedings from the public gallery and walked out en mass when the Bill was passed to show their displeasure.

The Bill has now been referred to the National Council of Provinces. If it is passed there, it could thereafter be signed into law by President Jacob Zuma.

However, opposition parties led by the Democratic Alliance have indicated that they will oppose the Bill in the lower house and take the matter up with the Constitutional Court, with a one third majority.

The Bill has been described in many ways by the opposition, with some saying it was "unconstitutional" and would take the country back to the days of Apartheid.

They urged Zuma not to sign the Bill particularly because of its lack of a public interest defence clause.

The ANC said that those opposed to the Bill had not read it, and that they were fully behind it. - BuaNews

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