The following statement was provided by the office of Archbishop Emeritus Desmond Tutu to be read by the organisers of the London Protest against the Protection of State Information Bill that was held outside South Africa House, Trafalgar Square on Saturday, 3 December 2011.
A State is entitled to keep information outside the public domain in instances where publication may jeopardise State security.
But if the legal mechanism created to protect State security advertently or inadvertently prevents criminality from being exposed, the mechanism is patently flawed.
The Protection of State Information is not only flawed, it is insulting to all South Africans to be asked to stomach legislation that could be used to outlaw whistle-blowing and investigative journalism; that contains no public benefit defence clause; and that makes the State answerable only to the State.
This is not to suggest that those presently holding the reins of power intend to use the legislation to muzzle anyone or to cover anything up. But, equally, there are presently a sufficient number of investigations (to the credit of government) into alleged corruption by members of this and previous governments to warrant treading with extra care.
I appeal to our MPs: Please hear the disquiet this proposed piece of legislation has caused. Please hear the warnings of the academics, civil society leaders, labour representatives, media corps, and legal and Constitutional experts.
This law will do our people and our country a disservice. By voting for it today members of the ruling party will be doing themselves and their party a grave disservice.