Info bill committee hears from Cwele

The minister said it was not government's intention for the Secrecy Bill to override other laws.

The Minister of State Security, Siyabonga Cwele.

CAPE TOWN - State Security Minister Siyabonga Cwele on Wednesday said it was not government's intention to have the controversial Protection of State Information Bill override other legislation.

In September, the ANC agreed to scrap a highly contested clause of the so-called 'Secrecy Bill'.

There were fears that clause 1.4 would supersede the Promotion of Access to Information Act (Paia).

The ad-hoc Committee dealing with the bill heard proposals from Cwele on how the bill may be amended.

He insists the state's intention was not to create a conflict between the two laws.

"To avoid conflict in the interpretation of the bill, it must only supersede the Act only in terms of classified information. There is no conflict."

Cwele's proposed changes to the bill include the word "espionage", which will be amended so it reads "espionage related offences".

He explained the original wording was not generally desirable, and agreed that municipalities should be excluded from classifying and declassifying information.

Cwele said he was confident the proposed changes will please almost everyone.

No mention was made of a public interest defence clause.