ANC not bowing to pressure - Tau

Papi Tau said the ANC had not bowed to pressure to water down the Secrecy Bill.

Protection of State Information Bill

CAPE TOWN - Chairman of a National Council of Provinces (NCOP) committee Papi Tau on Friday said the ANC had not bowed to pressure to water down the Protection of State Information Bill.

Instead, Tau said the ANC's proposed amendments to the controversial bill showed both the state and Parliament were prepared to listen and engage.

ANC members of the NCOP's ad hoc committee processing the bill, proposed changes, to protect people who reveal classified information exposing criminal activity.

The proposals introduced by the ANC members of the ad hoc committee turned down the provisions of the Protection of State Information Bill and may provide loopholes for journalists and others seeking to expose state information that is being concealed with criminal intent.

Tau said the interest of the state needed to be balanced with that of the country's people.

The ad hoc committee requested an extension until the end of June to complete its work on the so-called Secrecy Bill.

The proposed changes made to the bill would be referred back to the National Assembly, which is not obliged to accept them.

The controversial bill was passed by Parliament in 2011 despite a huge public outcry.

Critics of the bill including, the Right2Know Campaign, were calling for the inclusion of a public interest clause which would protect whistleblowers from facing jail time.

Earlier in 2012, the NCOP went around the country conducting public meetings on the bill.

During the meetings it became clear that the majority of people did not fully understand the bill.

Since then opposition parties have embarked on a mission of educating their supporters about the bill.