They still want to hide information

It was foolish to imagine, as some of us did last week, that President Jacob Zuma had undergone a Damascene conversion in his attitude to the media.

Hopes were raised when he referred the Protection of State Information Bill back to Parliament for reconsideration, saying some sections of the Bill are irrational and unconstitutional. This was widely welcomed as suggesting Zuma has finally seen the light.

Within hours, the Ministry of State Security, the driving force behind the Bill, said the problems were mainly typographical. Weekend reports suggest this view is correct. The government thinks that a little bit of tweaking, correcting the grammar and typographical errors in sections 42 and 45, will render the Bill ready to pass constitutional muster.

Core problems remain. Too many people are allowed too much scope to declare any information “classified”. And the possession and dissemination of classified state information are criminalised, even if such information is in the public interest.

The bottom line is the Zuma administration is still trying to prevent you from knowing what goes on in your country. The redrafted Bill must be challenged in the Constitutional Court.

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