Concern on the Protection of Information Bill –

Khulumani was founded on the basis of the importance of the principle of Speaking Out!  The right to access information is a founding principle of all work to consolidate truly participatory democracies.  Khulumani remains committed to enabling the agency and active citizenship of its large membership.

The information of particular relevance to Khulumani communities relates to information about government plans for poor communities, resource allocations for the implementation of these plans and information about the adjudication and awarding of tenders for the implementation of services vital to poor communities.

Poor communities are reliant on the provision of vital services such as access to water, housing, education, health care and critical infrastructure, such as roads and clinics, amongst others, to reduce poverty and inequality and to help them in the struggle to build a more socially inclusive society – a society based on a sense of safety and security and a reduction in the degree of precariousness that characterizes the daily live of Khulumani members.

The fact that the Protection of Information Bill could be used to prevent the release of such information to citizens, is a serious concern of Khulumani which is working to enable increasingly empowered and responsible citizens to hold those with political power to account.

The Protection of Information Bill currently before Parliament fundamentally undermines the right of citizens to access to information, enshrined in the Constitution that requires government to operate with openness, transparency and accountability to all the people of the country. There is no requirement on officials to provide reasons for declaring certain information secret.  The provisions of this bill limit possibilities for citizens to scrutinize government and business – a vital requirement in ensuring effective governance.

As we recall the commemoration of International Day for the Disappeared, we remember the previous dispensation that carried out secret abductions to disappear their political opponents accompanied by a refusal to release any information about the whereabouts of these political activists. We fear a return to practices of secrecy such as those surrounding the disappearance of anti-apartheid activitists. Khulumani says NO! to the draft “Secrecy Bill”

Issued by Khulumani Support Group National Contact Centre

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