Secrecy Bill: DA seeks details of NCOP Ad Hoc Committee’s first meeting
Alf Lees, DA Member of the NCOP for Kwazulu Natal
11 January 2012
The National Council of Provinces (NCOP) Ad Hoc Committee on the Protection of State Information Bill is due to meet in the last week of January.
I will today be writing to the Committee Secretary to request formal confirmation of the date on which the Committee will first meet, and a formal agenda for the meeting.
The Committee’s lifespan extends only until April, and it is therefore vital that its members are provided with a clear and comprehensive plan about how the Committee will go about its work.
The Committee’s top priority will be to draw up a plan for public consultations on the Bill. In December last year the Democratic Alliance (DA) formally requested that the Committee produce a detailed public participation plan in terms of NCOP Rule 103(1).
The DA remains committed to engaging on the Bill in the NCOP to ensure that it is brought in line with our Constitution and the values of an open, transparent and democratic society.
We welcome Deputy President Kgalema Motlanthe’s recent assertion that he remains optimistic that a consensus can be reached by all parties on the Bill. We trust that the ANC members of the Ad Hoc Committee will approach the committee’s work in this spirit, and will be open to the changes that the DA believes must be made to the Bill.
These changes include:
- A strengthened public interest override;
- A sufficiently limited definition of “national security”; and
- A review of sections pertaining to almost all offences (such as the possession and disclosure of classified information).
The DA will take all possible steps to ensure that the deliberations take place in an open and transparent manner, and that the necessary amendments are made to the Bill in the NCOP.