DA seeks to address shortcomings of Secrecy Bill public participation plan
Alf Lees, DA Member of the NCOP for Kwazulu Natal
18 January 2012
The draft programme for the National Council of Provinces (NCOP) Ad Hoc Committee’s work on the Protection of State Information Bill raises serious concerns that need to be addressed before it is finalised on Thursday.
I will today be writing to Committee Chairperson, Mr Raseriti Tau, requesting that the final programme address the current shortcomings in a concrete manner. These include:
• The arbitrary selection of 16 district and two metropolitan municipalities for public hearings without consideration for a proper balance between rural and urban areas. Major urban townships like Soweto, Umlazi, Gugulethu and Manenberg were simply left out.
• An insufficient number of public hearings in provinces with large populations, including KwaZulu-Natal, Gauteng and the Western Cape.
• Inadequate opportunity for oral submissions by key industry, media and civil society stakeholders to the committee.
• Limited time for committee deliberations on the public hearings and submissions.
I will therefore formally request that the final programme includes an additional opportunity for public hearings specifically for the metros of Johannesburg or Tshwane, eThekwini and the City of Cape Town.
The opportunity for oral submissions to the committee needs to be extended as well, along with the time allocated for the committee’s deliberations on the views of South Africans.
The Chairperson must also provide the committee with mechanisms that will ensure public participation on the Bill is not a sham.
A clear schedule must be provided that indicates advertising plans for public hearings in local newspapers and on community radio stations. The public hearings must be accessible and widely publicised.
All South Africans – no matter where they live – have a right to have their voices heard in this debate.
The NCOP committee has a duty to ensure that ordinary citizens, both in rural and urban South Africa, are well informed and consulted on the Bill and its potential impact on their lives.
The final programme will be available on Thursday after it is adopted with amendments.