Home  »  Articles   »   Protection of State Information Bill Sent Back to Parliament

Protection of State Information Bill Sent Back to Parliament

June 15, 2020

The Presidency

President Ramaphosa has sent the Protection of State Information Bill back to parliament for reconsideration.

According to a presidency statement, the bill was sent back due to reservations the president has about the constitutional validity of provisions in the bill.

Parliament passed the bill and sent it for assent in November 2013.

The bill had originally been passed by parliament in April 2013 and sent to then president Zuma for assent.

It was tabled in 2010.

Former president Zuma sent the bill back to parliament in September 2013 in order to tighten up clauses 42 and 45 of the bill.

The bill provides for the protection of sensitive state information; a system of classification, reclassification and declassification of state information; the protection of certain valuable state information against alteration, destruction or loss or unlawful disclosure, and regulates the manner in which state information may be protected.

President Ramaphosa is “concerned that certain provisions in the Bill are in conflict with Sections 16 and 32 of the Constitution which respectively address the right to freedom of expression, which includes freedom of the press and other media, and the right of access to any information held by the state and is required for the exercise”.

The president holds the view that the bill “limits the freedom of the media and everyone else to access or receive and impart information and prohibits people from accessing certain information held by the state”.

Concerns are also raised about deficiencies in the public-interest defence provisions in the bill “including criminal liability on the part of whistle-blowers who may be in possession of documents that may be wrongly classified to cover up corruption or hide illegalities or maladministration”.

President Ramaphosa has also sent the Liquor Products Amendment Bill back to parliament for reconsideration.

The bill was passed by parliament and sent to president Ramaphosa for assent in June 2018.

The national assembly passed the bill and sent it to the national council of provinces for concurrence in October 2017.

The bill was tabled in parliament in July 2016.

The proposed legislation seeks to amend the Liquor Products Act in order to:

• insert certain definitions and to amend and delete others;
• provide for the renaming and reconstitution of the Wine and Spirit Board and to limit its powers;
• provide for requirements regarding beer, traditional African beer and other fermented beverages;
• repeal a provision in respect of the authorisations regarding certain alcoholic products;
• empower the Minister to designate a person to issue export certificates;
• align certain provisions with the constitution;
• extend the ministers power to make regulations;
• provide gender-equal terminology; and
• provide for matters connected therewith.

According to the president, the bill should have been referred to the National House of Traditional Leaders as the bill contains a new section on requirements regarding traditional African beer.

“The President’s view is based on the fact that traditional beer is an intrinsic part of a number of cultural practices. Customary practices require that the production and consumption of such beverages be effected in a particular manner.”

The president holds the view that the bill will regulate how traditional beer is produced thereby affecting its production, distribution and consumption.