Opposition parties and other organizations who opposed the ANC’s proposed “Protection of Information Bill” asked everyone to wear black clothes yesterday, and called it “Black Tuesday”. And rightly so! 22 November 2011 will go down in history in South Africa as Black Tuesday.
I want to register my sadness and mourning, and my outrage and protest, at the ANC vote that passed the “Information Bill” into law in parliament yesterday. This is a major step toward unaccountable and autocratic rule. It’s a major step back to what the Apartheid government did to control information, to detain and imprison people, all in the name of “state security”. In reality it’s about increasing lack of transparency with constant cover-ups of growing corruption and abuse of power.
Personally, I have no idea how ANC members of parliament who are born again Christians can live with their conscience after voting the party line. The ANC Chief Whip Dr. Motshekga told his MPs they have to vote what the ANC wants. Shame on them!
In summary, the “Protection of Information Bill”…
- Is a draconian law that puts a shroud over government and undermines South Africa’s hard won freedoms for an open and just democratic society.
- Most opposition parties and other organizations opposed to the bill report that the public consultations were a sham with practically no one there. There should have been a revised process with real public consultation as promised by the Chief Whips in September.
- The heart of it is the Secrecy Law that empowers the government to define what is a “state secret” – whereby a person can be imprisoned for up to 25 years for holding “classified information”. It removes any meaningful protection for whistleblowers – who are greatly needed in South Africa today because of all the corruption taking place at the highest levels of business and government and civil service. The Secrecy Law has no public interest clause and has no independent appeals mechanism. This is very dangerous… power corrupts and absolute power corrupts absolutely!
- This vote could not come at a more worrying time, as more and more outrageous stories are coming out about government cronyism and corruption.
What can we do?
We must PRAY for the law to be rescinded, and for God to remove corrupt, incompetent and power-hungry leaders, and to raise up principled, competent and godly leaders.
We must PROTEST – speak up and shout out publicly – about the danger of this Protection of Information law and the ANC governments growing corruption and abuse of power.
We must CALL on our people in churches, etc, to confess and repent from all forms of lying, deception, corruption and stealing, and to blow the whistle on any corruption that they are aware of in all spheres of society.
May God have mercy on us!