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Final draft of Secrecy Bill to be passed

The National Assembly is expected to pass the final draft of the Secrecy Bill on Thursday.

Protection of State Information Bill. Picture: Aletta Gardner

JOHANNESBURG - President Jacob Zuma is being called on to refer the so-called Secrecy Bill to the Constitutional Court before signing it into law.

The National Assembly is on Thursday expected to pass the final draft of the controversial Protection of Information Bill leaving it a signature away from becoming legislation.

The bill has changed significantly over time, but rights organisations said it still lacked the vital public interest defence and threatens South Africa's democracy.

The The Right2Know Campaign's Murray Hunter said the bill could shut the public out and help those in power hide corruption.

"If the bill is passed in its current form I think that we will take appropriate legal action and if need be we will take it to the Constitutional Court."

But the acting Director General of State Security Dennis Dlomo said the bill has struck the perfect balance.

"This is a caring and listening government."

Meanwhile, the South African National Editors' Forum (Sanef) said members of Parliament and the President have the power to ask the Constitutional Court to iron out any remaining issues.

Sanef's Nic Dawes said, "The bill still gives very wide powers of classification and if it isn't used correctly it can certainly be used to prevent South Africans from gaining access to information they need in order to protect their basic democratic rights."

The Right2Know Campaign said that if the bill is passed into law, it will challenge it at the Constitutional Court.

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