POSIB: Safety minister leaves MPs seething

Siyabonga Cwele made no mention of a public interest defence clause in the controversial POSI bill.

A copy of the controversial Protection of State Information Bill. Picture: Aletta Gardner/EWN

CAPE TOWN - State Security Minister Siyabonga Cwele left activists seething on Wednesday after making no mention at all of including a public interest defence clause in the controversial Protection of State Information Bill.

Cwele also urged the parliamentary ad hoc committee dealing with the draft law to reconsider a number of earlier amendments.

He reported back to the committee on his ministry's proposed changes.

Cwele called for members of Parliament to reinsert a proposed five-year jail term for people who disclose classified information, and also questioned the rationale around restricting the classifying powers of police and the defence force.

"The key thing here is that parties are understanding of ordinary police members. In the defence clause they were not sure whether there were commission or non-commission members - all commission members handle classified information."

For over two years activists have been calling for a public interest defence clause in the so-called Secrecy Bill.

But Cwele did not once make mention of this crucial issue during his address.