The following statement from Peter Hain MP was read at the London Protest against the Protection of State Information Bill that was held outside South Africa House, Trafalgar Square on Saturday, 3 December 2011.
As a longstanding anti-apartheid activist I am deeply disturbed by the Protection of Information Bill and the fact that this rally in Trafalgar Square is being held at the very same spot where I participated in so many anti-apartheid demonstrations in the 1960s, 1970s and 1980s should itself cause the South African Government to take notice. We are all steadfast friends of the new South Africa and I am a longstanding supporter of the ANC.
Nelson Mandela and his comrades led the ANC to fight for liberty and human rights for all, and against state repression of freedom of speech and state censorship. A free media is a vital bulwark to protect those cherished rights of a free and genuinely democratic society.
Having been a Government Minister for twelve years in Britain I know only too well how frustrating and wrong the media can be for governments from time to time. But that is no excuse to reincarnate some of the worst aspects of apartheid back into South Africa today.
I hope President Zuma and his Government will listen to their friends. It is essential that this Bill is fundamentally changed before it becomes law.
Rt Hon Peter Hain MP for Neath