Business urges reconsideration of Info Bill

Reject Information Bill

Reject Information Bill

Pretoria – Business Unity South Africa (Busa) on Tuesday urged government to reconsider the “public interest” part of the Protection of Information Bill, which the National Assembly will vote on later today.

“Busa urges government even at this late stage to reconsider the ‘public interest’ dimension of the Bill to allay fears that transparency and accountability in South African public affairs would be greatly weakened by the exclusion of a ‘public interest’ clause,” it said.

The Bill provides for a fast-tracked process of accessing information, which reveals the contravention or a failure to comply with the law, imminent and serious public safety or environmental danger. It criminalised the use of classification for hiding maladministration, corruption, embarrassing information, amongst other things.

The Bill has been met with mixed reactions since law makers brought it to the public forum.

Through the Bill, the State wants to regulate the protection of certain information from “destruction, loss or unlawful disclosure” and to repeal the Protection of Information Act of 1982.

“As economic performance and good governance are closely bound up with each other, Busa supports the need for transparent government and supporting institutions.”

It added that the free flow of information was essential in combating corruption, which was a serious threat to the country achieving its socio-economic goals.

“In view of the joint commitment by business and government to address the challenge of corruption – which ultimately undermines growth, employment and poverty alleviation – Busa appeals to government to subject the new draft legislation to a ‘public interest’ test.”

Business said it believed that such an amendment will go a long way to meet the serious concerns that have been raised.

On Tuesday, the Right 2Know Campaign picketed against the Bill outside Parliament, while many were encouraged to wear black in support of what has been coined “Black Tuesday”. – BuaNews