'ANC backtracks on secrecy bill'

The ANC has been accused of pulling back from concessions it proposed regarding the PoSIB.

Members of Parliament vote in the proposed Protection of State Information Bill. Picture: Chantall Presence/EWN

CAPE TOWN - Civil society organisation Right2Know on Friday accused the ANC of sending mixed messages about the Protection of State Information Bill.

The National Council of Province's ad hoc committee dealing with the draft law met this week.

Concerns were raised about the ruling party's apparent about-turn on some concessions it had been willing to make.

The Right2Know campaign's Vinayak Bhardwaj said it seemed the ANC tried to lull those opposed to the so-called secrecy bill into a false sense of security.

This week the ANC appeared to have pulled back from concessions it proposed.

Bhardwaj explained the concessions were important.

"The whistleblower concession has been watered down."

Ah hoc committee member and Congress of the People MP, Dennis Bloem, added there were no more opportunities to make changes to the bill.

"The ANC has already closed negotiations."

In a statement, the ANC said it was regrettable there was a perception it was reneging on its amendments.

The bill was passed by the National Assembly in November 2011.

Many critics of the bill, including, the Congress of the South African Trade Unions (Cosatu), believe it will hide corruption as whistleblowers will be scared to come forward.

Those found guilty of disclosing classified information could face up to 15 years in prison.