Secrecy bill reports arrive late

A report on the contentious Protection of State Information Bill was tabled in Parliament.

The final draft of the Protection of State Information Bill. Picture:EWN

CAPE TOWN - A report on the contentious Protection of State Information Bill was tabled in Parliament on Friday.

The document was presented by Members of Parliament (MPs) sitting on the National Council of Provinces (NCOP)'s ad-hoc committee dealing with the proposed legislation.

The report contains a summary of opinions from groups and individuals who took part in public hearings.

Papi Tau, the chairperson of the NCOP's ad-hoc committee, admitted his embarrassment after the late arrival of two reports.

MPs started late and argued over why the documents should form part of deliberations.

The Democratic Alliance (DA) wanted the committee to start debating the actual bill.

But Tau said MPs should be afforded the opportunity to express their views on the hearings, before the bill is debated.

Forums were held around South Africa and were concluded in March.

During the hearings, the public veered off the topic raising service delivery issues.

Meanwhile, eleven political parties decided to unite in their opposition to the proposed law.

They approached various communities in a bid to educate the public about the so-called 'Secrecy Bill'.

Opposition parties believe a public interest clause should be included, to ensure that whistleblowers will be prosecuted.

The bill was passed by the National Assembly in November, despite widespread public condemnation.