Secrecy bill hits a snag

Opposition MPs want their objections to the Protection of State Information Bill to be spelt out.

The Protection of State Information Bill. Picture: Regan Thaw/EWN

CAPE TOWN - The controversial Protection of State Information Bill has hit a stumbling block.

The bill is due to come before the National Assembly for a vote next week, but this might be delayed after complaints from opposition parties.

Parliament is set to vote on Tuesday, but a dispute erupted over a report from the ad-hoc committee that dealt with President Jacob Zuma's reservations about the proposed law.

The Democratic Alliance (DA), Congress of the People (Cope) and the Inkatha Freedom Party (IFP) say in terms of the rules of Parliament, their objections to that process should have been clearly spelt out.

National Assembly Speaker Max Sisulu agrees.

The report will now go back to committee chairperson Cecil Burgess to fix.

It is not yet clear whether this will delay the vote on the bitterly contested bill.

Meanwhile, Press Ombudsman Joe Thloloe believes the bill will not end press freedom.

Several organisations, including the Right2Know Campaign, remain opposed to the bill saying it will stifle free speech and punish whistleblowers.

Critics of the bill want a public interest defence clause to be included in the bill.