Info bill passed in the NCOP

At least 34 members of the National Council of Provinces voted in favour of the ‘secrecy bill’.

The Protection of State Information Bill. Picture: EWN

CAPE TOWN - Parliament's National Council of Provinces (NCOP) on Thursday passed the contentious Protection of State Information Bill.

Earlier, Members of Parliament (MPs) debated the draft law.

Council chairperson Mninawa Mahlangu announced the results of a vote just a few moments ago.

"Those who vote in favour are 34 and those against the bill are 16. No one abstained [from the vote]."

Earlier, opposition MPs were outspoken as they voiced their concerns over the so-called 'secrecy bill'.

Prior to proceedings, State Security Minister Siyabonga Cwele, addressed MPs and downplayed concerns over the bill.

"It is not to protect criminals who steal state resources, including information, to be prosecuted. Let me assure you again that this bill does not permit the abuse of power."

Cwele urged people not to fear the proposed legislation.

He described the bill as "very progressive".

"To those who fear that the bill may be abused, we say, the only thing to fear is fear itself."

Meanwhile, the Right2Know Campaign has threatened to take the matter to court if the bill is passed in its current form.

Critics of the bill say it will allow corruption to flourish as whistleblowers could be jailed for up to 15 years.