It's looking increasingly as if, despite days of MPs "working nicely together", the 'Secrecy Bill
' will become law this Parliamentary session - and almost certainly face an immediate Constitutional Court challenge.
Although nearly all the MPs who spoke at the debate yesterday, Wednesday, 16 November 2011, congratulated the ad hoc committee on working nicely together, there remain several issues on which they disagree strongly - most notably the inclusion of a public-interest defence, or lack thereof. Still, it looks increasingly likely the controversial Protection of State Information Bill will be voted into law before the end of this Parliamentary session. But civil society groups - and, most importantly, COSATU - are standing firm in their intention to take the matter to the Constitutional Court, if needs be.
Minister of state security Sibongile Cwele was the first to speak during Wednesday afternoon's national assembly debate. Cwele stated: "The African National Congress believes that the changes made to the bill are a correct response to the valid concerns raised by fellow South Africans during the protracted engagements." However, he made it clear that the public-interest defence, and public-domain defences will not be accommodated in the bill.
All the opposition parties stated they would vote against the bill, with the exception of Cope, which did not indicate which way it would vote. Democratic Alliance MP David Maynier's speech was particularly hard-hitting. "I have no doubt that if Nelson Mandela were present here today he would have had the courage to join the opposition in speaking out against the Secrecy Bill," he said.
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