MPs to engage on Info Bill


Protection of State Information Bill

Protection of State Information Bill

Cape Town – Parliament’s Ad Hoc Committee looking into the Protection of State Information Bill has adopted an ambitious public hearing drive aimed at getting maximum input from as many South Africans as possible.

The Bill, which has drawn much interest and debate from across the country, was approved by a majority vote in the National Assembly late last year. It has now been passed to the National Council of Provinces (NCOP) for further scrutiny before it is sent to President Jacob Zuma for his signature into law.

Committee Chair Raseriti Tau said on Tuesday they would not “rubber stamp” the National Assembly decision.

He said they were taking the process seriously with the aim of “deepening democracy”.

“The only way to do [that] is to reach out to the people,” he said.

Tau, who was positive about the public hearings, said they would take on board the views of as many people as possible.

Two programmes have been drawn up by the committee, one for public meetings to be held at Parliament and another for public meetings to be held in all nine provinces, with a focus on both rural and urban settings.

Tau said his team of 15 MPs would be split into three groups to allow for multiple meetings to be held concurrently.

The process is meant garner what people know about the bill, as well as tell them what it is about.

Advertisements for public submission on the bill are expected to be published today.

The Department of State Security has been scheduled to brief the committee on the bill next Tuesday, thereafter the public hearing meetings will commence.

The committee hopes to have wrapped them up by the end of April.

Asked whether the committee would meet its deadline, Tau said it was going to be a challenge but they would make it. In the event that they fail to complete on time, they will seek an extension of the deadline through a resolution in the NCOP.

All the committee members seemed to agree on the action plan. However, Congress of the People (Cope) MP Dennis Bloem said he did not want the hearings to turn into rallies.

Tau challenged him by saying that the committee wanted as many people to attend the hearings as that was the aim of the process. – BuaNews