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'Info bill should to be sent to ConCourt'

Calls for Jacob Zuma to take the controversial Secrecy Bill to the ConCourt are growing louder.

The Constitutional Court of South Africa. Picture: Lesego Ngobeni/EWN

JOHANNESBURG - Calls for President Jacob Zuma to refer the controversial Protection of State Information Bill are growing louder.

The National Assembly on Thursday passed the so-called Secrecy Bill with more than two thirds of members giving it the thumbs up.

Despite major changes those opposed to the bill said it remains unconstitutional and have vowed to launch a legal challenge against it.

After a heated debate and a quick vote these words pushed the bill a step closer to becoming law:

"The question is accordingly agreed to and the bill will be sent to the President for assent."

The proposed law was passed with 189 votes in favour, 74 against and one abstention.

The South African National Editors' Forum (Sanef)'s Nic Dawes said the bill remains deeply flawed.

"We recognise that the parliamentary process is done and it is now time for the legal process to start."

Media Monitoring Africa's Director William Bird said the bill should be tested at the constitutional court.

"I think it needs to be tested for the legitimacy of factors given, and not just the debates."

The African National Congress has described it as a "born-again bill" that will stand up to any legal challenge.

Earlier on Thursday, State Security Minister Siyabonga Cwele told Members of Parliament (MPs) the legislation has been significantly altered.

"Today, as we debate to adopt the Protection of State Information Bill during the week of Freedom Day, we are confident that it has addressed concerns of our people."

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