The Ministry of State Security has joined political parties and analysts in welcoming President Jacob Gedley’hlekisa Zuma’s decision to send the Protection of State Information Bill back to the National Assembly.
The controversial “secrecy bill” was passed by Parliament earlier this year and was referred to Zuma to be signed into law.
However, President Zuma on Thursday 12 September announced that he has written to Parliament asking that the National Assembly relook at sections 42 and 45, which “did not pass constitutional muster” because the sections lacked clarity.
State Security Spokesperson Brian Dube says the decision will allow Parliament to give effect to the areas of concern pertaining mainly to typographical errors that affect the meaning and rationality of the Bill.
The significance of the errors in respect to section 42 and 45 are material in the implementation of this piece of legislation and as such, it is important to allow the legislature to attend to the same, said Dube.
“We have been consistent in saying we would welcome inputs that seek to enrich this Bill and in this regard, we are confident that Parliament will exercise its constitutional mandate in relation to this Bill within a reasonable time period.”
Section 42 deals with the failure to report information that should be classified, while Section 45 deals with the improper classiﬁcation of state documents and the penalties for those who knowingly classify information in order to achieve any purpose ulterior to the act, for example, to conceal breaches of the law or prevent embarrassment to a person, organisation or agency.
Several political parties and analysts have welcomed the move which some labelled as a “victory for social justice”.
The Right2Know Campaign (R2K) which has been vocal about the Bill called on the “members of Parliament to seize this opportunity to redeem themselves and redraft the Bill to bring it in line with the values of openness and transparency upon which we can ensure an accountable democracy able to deliver the needs of our people.”