South Africa’s parliament yesterday approved a controversial bill aimed at protecting state secrets. Dubbed the “secrecy bill” by its critics, the Protection of State Information bill was passed by 189 votes to 74. Campaigners against the bill warned of the “chilling effect” it could create for anyone fighting to bring government corruption to light.
The Right2Know campaign has been working against the bill since its introduction in 2010, and has vowed to continue fighting against the bill, which now must be signed by Jacob Zuma, South Africa’s president, in order to go into effect. Although the bill was amended last year to include a clause on public interest, the campaign says that the modified bill still “only has narrow protection for whistleblowers and public advocates”. Right2Know also criticised the bill’s vague language — which they say could possibly endanger whistleblowers and journalists.
Writing for Index on Censorship last year, Nobel laureate Nadine Gordimer said that the bill “must be discarded in its entirety.”