Speech by Hon Lewellyn Landers, MP (ANC) in National Assembly on the eve of voting for Protection of Info Bill

22 November 2011

Mr Speaker
Hon Deputy President

It is our experience that most opponents of this Bill have not actually read the Bill. Today`s events confirm that view. The ANC supports the Protection of State Information Bill because it repeals P W Botha`s 1982 Protection of Information Act. Those opposed to this Bill want P W Botha`s 1982 Act to remain in our statute books.

The ANC supports the Protection of State Information Bill because it will help bring closure to the family and relatives of people like the late Ahmed Timol who was murdered under mysterious and, as yet, undisclosed circumstances. Those who are opponents to this Bill don`t want those families and relatives to reach closure or for the truth surrounding their murders to be revealed.

Opponents of this Bill refer to the lack of a public interest defence in the Bill as reason for its rejection.

These opponents fail to acknowledge the fact that the Bill contains the same public interest override found in the Promotion of Access to Information Act. Opponents of this Bill have also failed or refuse to acknowledge or even address the incalculable and irreparable harm that would accrue to the state and the people of South Africa if a court were to find that the disclosure of classified information by a purported whistle-blower was not done in the public interest, but rather for malicious and vindictive reasons.

We remain unconvinced by the reasons put forward for opposing the Bill. The ANC will be voting in favour of this Bill.

Thank you.