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Submission of Chairperson of Khulumani Limpopo Province to the NCOP Public Hearing in Mokopane on February 28, 2012

As the Khulumani Support Group Provincial Members in Limpopo, our voice will not be silenced. A democracy that meets the basic needs of the people is built on transparency and freedom of expression. We stand for the values of freedom of information guaranteed in section 32 of our constitution. We reject the provisions in this bill which will prevent the free flow of information.

Most of us here fought selflessly for the democracy we are currently experiencing. Twenty years down the line, it is unfortunate that for some of us, the fight still continues. We are still fighting to right the wrongs we were subjected to during Apartheid and despite the change in government; most of our needs have not been met.

People are angry with the poor performance of this government since coming into power. This is evident in the various forms of protests by workers and the public that have swept across the country. For this struggle to persist, we continuously rely on the free flow of information.

This bill will contravene with the provisions clearly stated in our constitution. It will also intimidate people from sharing important information thereby preventing discourse on issues affecting our communities. Topics such as reparations which our government always dodges will be buried under the carpet and our struggle will be lost.

Why has this bill come at this time when the masses are mobilizing? It seems our government is scared and wants to use the law to oppress our movement.

Dear friends, if this bill is passed, we will be left in the dark, our voices will be dead. Who will let us know about our governments' greed and corrupt practices like the recent developments in the Limpopo Government where billions of rands were mismanaged. None of us would have known that such criminal practices were happening right in our backyard if it wasn't for the media.

Sadly, this bill will foster a culture of secrecy in our society and such incidents will go unpunished.
Instead of censoring the media which is our only sources of information, the government should be thinking of ways to strengthen community-controlled media bodies. Why fix it if it's not broken?

Based on this, we therefore recommend that the 'secrecy bill' should not be passed. We appreciate the importance of protecting legitimate state secrets. But this should not be done at the expense of everyones' constitutional rights. We refuse to be silenced.

Mr Andrew Debeila as the Chairperson of the Khulumani Limpopo Provincial Steering Committee
Contact Details: 084 677 4187

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