Odac supports redraft of ‘irrational and unconstitutional’ Info Bill

The Open Democracy Advice Centre (Odac) says it supports President Jacob Zuma’s conclusion that the Protection of State Information Bill still does not pass constitutional muster.

“President Zuma has confirmed what scores of nongovernment organisations, such as Odac and the Right to Know Campaign, universities, community groups, legal experts and the public at large have been saying since 2008, that this legislation is ‘irrational and unconstitutional’”, said Mukelani Dimba, Odac’s executive director, today.

The President sent the much-contested and so-called secrecy bill back to Parliament today.

Zuma announced his decision during a meeting with the Parliamentary Press Gallery Association.

He said that the bill could not be passed on constitutional grounds and therefore had to be sent back to the National Assembly for consideration.

He also added that some sections of the bill, particularly sections 42 and 45, were unconstitutional and irrational.

“I have referred the bill to the National Assembly for reconsideration insofar as sections of the bill, in particular sections 42 and 45, lack meaning and coherence, consequently are irrational and accordingly are unconstitutional,” Zuma said.

But Odac believes that the unconstitutionality and inappropriateness of the bill extends beyond sections 42 and 45, and instead goes to the underlying rationality and foundation of the Bill itself.

The Protection of State Information Bill was passed in April in the National Assembly by an overwhelming majority with 189 votes in favour, 74 against and one abstention.

The decision to send the bill back to Parliament means that a new process will have to be initiated to remedy the flaws in the provisions of the bill.

“Parliament has been given a rare chance to redeem itself in the processing of this troublesome law. Previously, Parliament was derelict in its duty to process the draft law within the prescripts of the Constitution and allowed state security mandarins to dictate to Parliament the scope and nature of the provisions of the bill for their own undisclosed intentions,” said Dimba.

– City Press

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