Hon members, I have been informed that the report of the ad hoc committee is published on page 5 791 of the Announcements, Tablings and Committee Reports dated 11 November.
Hon members, whilst the Minister is coming to the podium, I want to say that the level of noise is very high. I know most of you might be excited about tomorrow being the last day. There is a kind of excitement and it is disturbing me. I cannot hear properly. Can you lower your voices, please? If you are planning a surprise for tomorrow, can you plan that surprise on the second floor or somewhere else, so that those of us who want to listen can still listen? Thank you.
Hon Deputy Speaker, hon Deputy President, hon members, the ANC welcomes the President's referral of the Protection of State Information Bill to the National Assembly for consideration of his reservations in terms of section 79(1) of the Constitution, because some sections of the Bill, in particular clauses 42 and 45, lack meaning and coherence, consequently being irrational and unconstitutional.
We are happy that the committee agreed with the President's reservations and corrected them comprehensively, as stated in the committee report before the House. First of all, what caused the problem, what caused the challenges identified by His Excellency President Zuma are several technical errors in the final Bill which was sent to him. Some of them were so material that they could be challenged by the members of the public on whom obligations were being imposed that were incoherent and irrational, as in clauses 42 and 45, in that they were creating offences or sometimes putting an obligation on someone in returning classified documents.
We thank the President for putting the people first by bringing back these reservations. We thank the committee for dealing with other technical errors in the Bill even if they were not so material, but had the potential of being incoherent and irrational, for instance, incorrect spelling, punctuation and incorrect cross-references.
What is clear, Deputy Speaker, is that Parliament must seriously increase its capacity to avoid technical errors in legislation as it is now, unlike during the apartheid era, dealing with large volumes of legislation. We must increase the capacity of Parliament's legal drafting and committee section in order to provide appropriate support to Parliament and its committees when making amendments. The ANC supports the Bill. Thank you.
Hon Deputy Speaker, hon Deputy President, hon Ministers, hon members, allow me quickly to remind the House of the history and the road that the Bill has followed in respect of this matter.
On Thursday 12 September 2013 the ATC published a letter that the hon Speaker received from the President about returning the Protection of State Information Bill to the National Assembly for consideration of the President's reservations about its constitutionality. The referral of the President was made in terms of section 79(1) of the Constitution.
On the same day the House met and by resolution established an ad hoc committee to consider and report on the President's reservations and the Bill in terms of Joint Rule 203 and to report to the House by 31 October. The procedure set out in Rule 203 provides that the committee must consider and confine itself to the President's reservations. The Rule further provides for conferring with the corresponding NCOP committee in certain specific circumstances.
The ad hoc committee met on 9 and 10 October 2013 to consider the reservations of the President. In this regard, the committee considered section 79 of the Constitution, which provides for the President to refer a Bill back to the National Assembly if he has reservations about the constitutionality of the Bill. The committee also considered the provisions of Joint Rule 203. In addition, the committee was briefed on the present Constitutional Court precedents that deal with section 79 referrals.
Hon Deputy Speaker, after much deliberation the committee came to the following conclusions. The referral of the President was specific and related only to the constitutionality of clauses 42 and 45 of the Bill. It was not necessary to confer with the corresponding NCOP committee because of the substance of the referral, and the Bill contained certain typographical and grammatical errors that needed attention.
The committee then considered clauses 42 and 45. There was an incorrect cross-reference in clause 42, where the clause referred to section 15, when it should have referred to and read section 13. The structure of clause 45 of the Bill needed to be rearranged in order to make it rational. Accordingly, by a majority vote, the committee agreed to amend clauses 42 and 45, and the amended clauses have been published for the consideration of the House. The committee also, by majority vote, agreed to refer the identified typographical and grammatical errors to the House for consideration.
The committee completed its work on 10 October and the committee report was referred to the House and published in the ATC on 15 October. On 22 October the House, by resolution, referred the matter back to the committee to further consider its report on the Bill. The deadline to report was extended to 7 November.
The committee met on 29 October and agreed to amend the report to include the minority views of the DA and the ACDP. Cope and the IFP were absent from the meeting. The State Law Adviser was requested to peruse the entire Bill to check for any other typographical and grammatical errors.
The committee then met on 30 October and, by majority vote, amended the committee report, which contained all the minority views, and was adopted for referral to the House for consideration. The committee, also by majority vote, agreed to submit to the House an amended list of typographical and grammatical errors, which had been identified by the State Law Adviser, for consideration.
However, the House again resolved on 7 November to refer the report back to the committee for further consideration and the deadline for the committee to report was extended to 12 November. The committee met on Friday 8 November and, by majority vote, the committee report was amended to include the reference to the textual and technical errors the Minister and I have already referred to. I might add that the majority view was that these corrections are in line with the need to ensure that the Bill is coherent and rational.
In the circumstances, the committee having considered the reservations of the President in respect of clauses 42 and 45, recommends to the House that the President's reservations be accommodated and accordingly reports the Bill with amendments. The committee also considered the provisions of Joint Rule 203 and reports that it is not necessary for the Bill to be referred to the corresponding NCOP committee since the reservations of the President do not relate to the matters which fall within the ambit of subrule 203(2)(i) and (ii).
Hon Deputy Speaker, I have heard some noises here to my left and I have previously warned the House that the Protection of State Information Bill has the tendency of seriously affecting the behaviour of reasonable people. They start to behave incoherently, and they say funny things. The House will soon observe the transformation on my left that the debate will create. [Interjections.] You hear, you hear now, Deputy Speaker; there it starts.
Hon Deputy Speaker, you wanted to know what is happening; why people are so uncomfortable. It is not because tomorrow is the last day. It is because Protection of State of the Information Bill that is in the House today. [Interjections.]
Hon Deputy Speaker, the ANC comrades in the committee are clear and not confused. They understand the need for the Bill and they have worked with distinction while dealing with the reservations of the President. Their attendance in meetings was excellent. Allow me, therefore, to thank all those who assisted in the work, especially my ANC comrades; the Minister of State Security visited our meetings and was welcomed as a guest; the Parliamentary Legal Services and the office of the Chief State Law Adviser; and all the hon members of the opposition, even those who grumbled and stumbled and disagreed just for the sake of disagreeing, taking the typical opposition stance of, we must not agree with the ANC, even if they are right.
The ANC supports the amendments. The ANC supports the report and the report is accordingly presented to the House for consideration and adoption. Thank you.
Hon Deputy Speaker and hon members, two years ago, on that now infamous Black Tuesday, this House sent a message to South Africa that the freedoms won by those who came before us can never be taken for granted. In a glaring assault on our Constitution, the ANC, dressed in the brightest colours and with iron-fisted determination, pushed through a Bill that would kill transparency, boost corruption and fundamentally undermine freedom of expression. It was a defining point in our democracy. We could either sit idly by while our freedoms were being undermined or we could fight in defence of our Constitution.
If ever we were unsure whether our democracy could sustain an attack of this magnitude from the governing party, our collective message was clear. Outside the gates of Parliament a coalition of civil society movements, the media and South African citizens were unrelenting in bringing pressure to bear on Parliament to ensure that this Bill be brought in line with the Constitution. Inside this House members from the opposition, including hon Dene Smuts, hon David Maynier, hon Mario Oriani-Ambrosini and hon Steven Swart, refused to back down in the face of this assault. They fought day in and day out to roll back the worst of this Bill. In the NCOP hon Alf Lees and hon Darryl Worth kept the pressure up. It was a coalition in defence of our Constitution. It was a coalition on which South Africans will look back in our history books and honour.
But our fight did not end there. While our efforts changed some of the worst aspects of the Bill, the Protection of State Information Bill that was passed this year remained inconsistent with the Constitution. The definition of "national security" remains too broad. This means that the state could still infringe on people's right to access information and undermine the constitutionally enshrined principle of freedom of expression. The Bill still does sowith the category of information which has nothing to do with security or classification called "valuable information". This allows the Minister of State Security to make regulations with respect to what is ordinary government record-keeping. This, in our view, is an attempt to perpetuate the minimum information security standard system which is currently only Cabinet policy.
Fundamentally, the Bill legislated on what is the provincial government competence of provincial archives. We therefore maintain that it should have been tagged as a section 76 Bill and not as section 75. It is for this reason that, following the National Assembly vote on the Bill, I petitioned the President in terms of section 79 of the Constitution to refer the Bill back to Parliament so that these problems could once and for all be corrected.
Confronted with these genuine substantive concerns and ahead of an election campaign in which his party is already on the back foot, the hon President could not simply sign this Bill into law, not without at least seeming to care about its constitutionality. Referring this Bill back to the House, he appears to have done so only to address technical and grammatical problems relating to clauses 42 and 45 of the Bill. There was no reference made to the broad definition of "national security", no reference to the "valuable information" and no reference to the incorrect tagging.
Let me be very clear, hon members,that the DA fully supports correcting these technical anomalies. It is a shame that the Bill was passed with them in the first place. But there is much more that needs to be fixed and the hon President knows this, because we submitted legal opinions to him which detail these problems in meticulous detail. Perhaps this is the reason why, despite precedent established by former President Thabo Mbeki and former President Motlanthe, whose referrals were detailed and clear, President Zuma's referral was vague. Perhaps this is also why the hon President did not respond to my letter requesting that he clarify the terms of his referral or to my second letter following up on the first, and perhaps this is why the ANC in the ad hoc committee refused the hon Smuts' request that the committee seek clarity on the referral from the hon President.
The DA will not give up fighting on this Bill. We will not stop until it is brought completely in line with the Constitution. We are not fooled by the public relations tactics of the Presidency. The ANC should be ashamed for thinking that South Africans will fall for these tactics. This is why I will again petition the President in terms of section 79 of the Constitution. This Bill must come back to Parliament and the real, substantive problems with it must be addressed. If that does not happen, this Bill will unavoidably end up in the Constitutional Court and this House and every member who supported this Bill will be left ashamed.
A government that supports an apartheid era National Key Points Act, which goes to court to prevent an investigative report into Nkandla from being released by the Public Protector, which classifies public documents regardless of the public interest, cannot be given even more power to put secrecy above transparency. [Applause.] Madam Deputy Speaker, the Security cluster under President Zuma, which is unrelenting in its effort to advance the course of secrecy, from Guptagate to Nkandlagate, from spy tapes to the proposed appointment of Robert McBride as the head of the Independent Police Investigative Directorate, Ipid, from Marikana to the arms deal, should not be given more power to avoid accountability.
Hon Deputy Speaker, over the past two years our coalition in defence of the Constitution has held strong. We must now finish what we set out to achieve - a fully constitutional Protection of State Information Bill - and we must accept nothing less. I thank you. [Applause.]
Hon Chairperson, hon Deputy President, hon Ministers and Deputy Ministers, as stated in the committee, Cope does not go along with the charade that we went through after the letter from the President was presented to this ad hoc committee.
The fact is that the ANC wanted the committee to limit the discussions only to clauses 42 and 45, as their interpretation of the letter from the President states. They immediately suggested that we amend other clauses that reasonably have to be amended due to grammar, punctuation and spelling errors.
The hon Burgess stated the history of this particular committee as if everything was going smoothly. The truth is that the ANC tried to bulldoze everybody in the committee all the time. That's why the Speaker had to send the report back to the committee to correct what should be corrected. The refusal of the ANC to include the minority views in the report clearly shows their attitude towards anything. They believe that the majority must continue to bulldoze everybody, even if it's wrong. It's really unfortunate.
Hon Speaker, the letter from the President raises concerns about the constitutionality and tagging of the Bill. On the other hand the proposed amendments of clauses 42 and 45 deal with crossing the t's and dotting the i's. We don't believe that the noncrossing of the t's and nondotting of the i's on their own could cause the Bill not to pass constitutional muster.
Cope believes that since clauses 42 and 45 in particular are referred to by the President as examples of the use of a phrase that lacks meaning and coherence, the logical thing the committee should have done was to ask for more clarity from the President. The committee's task was limited to dealing only with the clauses referred to by the President. No reasonable legislature can ignore correcting obvious spelling mistakes, hence Cope supported the other technical amendments which were not referred to by the President.
It is interesting that the ANC did not support the proposal to look at the Bill as a whole. To them the President was specific about dealing with clauses 42 and 45. But when it came to other clauses which had errors, they used a different logic and said we must deal with that because we can't allow the Bill to go through with such mistakes, and this was reasonable. But their logic is very problematic, because when it comes to other points that the President did not specify, and if it suits them, they must be dealt with, because it's logical. That's very difficult logic from the ANC.
The ANC knows that this legislation is wrong. They know that this Bill is wrong and they also know that if it was law today the charade we saw in our courts about the Public Protector and the Minister of Justice and Constitutional Development would not see the light of day because they would have used this law to try to block the Public Protector from doing her job. Cope believes that the letter of the President gave us an opportunity to review the Bill as a whole, but the ANC used its numbers to bulldoze all the other parties. It is important for voters to understand that not voting will only strengthen the dictatorship of the ANC. The drama involving the Nkandla report, as I have stated, indicates very clearly the operation of the ANC, which is going to bring in a police state by stealth. I thank you.
Mr Chairman, what are we doing here? For the third time in a row we are adopting a Bill which we know to be unconstitutional, which we know to be unpopular, which we know to be retrograde to the will of the people of South Africa and all the building blocks of our society.
Why are we doing it? It's a recurring question which is yet to be answered. It is not in the tradition of the ANC. It is not in the tradition of the liberation movement. It is not in the tradition of the IFP. It is not in the tradition of the Democratic Party or the United Democratic Front. This Bill is only in the political tradition of that which no longer exists, which is the National Party. [Interjections.]
We are re-enacting a page that only the National Party could have written, and it is retrograde to the political tradition of all the parties which have now brought this country to democracy and are trying to build a new constitutional order. That is what we are doing. How are we going about doing it? We are doing it in the most surreptitious way.
Before you, you have a report, which the relevant party states - sorry, I no longer have the energy I used to have - abouth which the committee further decided that it was unable to agree to the inclusion of the report or the letter by the IFP, which actually misrepresented events or the proceedings and positions taken by the members of the committee. [Interjections.]
Hon members, the noise level is too high. I can't hear the hon member!
Let me speak! Now, there was no such thing as a letter ... [Interjections.]
... but there was one statement that we were trying to put into the minority report. One single line! And, in the report approved by the committee, it was nothing more than a line. They had to reconvene once more to turn that into a line.
The report originally stated that they would not publish what we wanted because they would not agree with it; they would not agree with our view. Therefore, they censored it. What was the view? The view was, and I am reading from what I submitted to the hon Burgess. Shame on you, hon Burgess! I submitted that the committee should have considered the problems of the constitutionality of the Bill identified in the opinion of Adv Anton Katz. [Interjections.]
Order, hon members!
We wanted the real issues to be considered, not the grammatical issues. The President was seized with two documents, a serious opinion of constitutionality raised by the Leader of the Opposition on behalf of the entire opposition and a number of ... [Interjections.]
Sorry, hon Smuts!
Address the Chair, hon member!
Well, I think you should start speaking for the DA. You were the one who opposed the tabling ... [Interjections.]
Hon Ambrosini, will you address the Chair and not the member!
... of your own leader's ... [Interjections.]
Address the Chair and not the member!
... letter, and I've got the transcript here! You, hon Smuts! You made me sick when you called me ... [Interjections.] Excuse me?
Hon Ambrosini, address the Chair and not the member!
Okay, Mr Chairman. The hon Smuts was in terrible error when she called me a liar in the committee, because she was napping when I requested the opinion of Adv Katz to be tabled in the committee and considered. I've got the transcript here, and I will be very glad to share it with her.
All that we wanted was for the committee to utilise the power that it has in terms of the Constitution: to review the entire Bill and address the real issues. We believe that the President was aware of this power and sent it back for issues of grammar in the hope that we would address the real issues of constitutionality.
Hon member, your time has expired.
Thank you, Mr Chairman. My doctors told me that, but I'm still alive. Thank you. [Applause.]
Hon House Chairperson, hon Deputy President, hon Ministers and hon Members of Parliament, I want to greet the members of the ANC, the people who are governing this country today, and the people who will win the upcoming elections. [Interjections.] [Applause.]
After all that has been said here to which the people were listening, I'm convinced that they are not going to vote for any of the people who spoke here.
The President was crystal clear on what he wanted us to do. The President wanted us to deal with clauses 42 and 45 and that is exactly what the ad hoc committee has done.
With regard to the other issues raised by the hon Leader of the Opposition, those are issues dealing with the whole Bill. I think that people are not aware, or at least the opposition is not aware, that we are not the only country that has a Bill or an Act of that nature. [Interjections.]
Countries such as Australia, New Zealand, Germany, Canada and India have privacy Acts. We are not a banana republic. South Africa is the sovereign state of the Republic of South Africa. We will not be guided by people who stand on the fence and throw stones! We are guided by the fact that we want to protect the safety of the citizens of this country. That is what is at the heart of the whole Bill. [Interjections.] Whether people shout or not, we are going to come back here in our numbers. I am sorry, because half of you will not come back here! [Interjections.]
Unfortunately, the Leader of the Opposition was not in the committee. She is not aware that the hon Oriani-Ambrosini and hon Smuts never agreed on anything. I noticed that she was binding them together as if they agreed. They never agreed! So, it's a pity, because she is talking about things that never happened in the committee. If you were listening to the hon Oriani-Ambrosini when he was speaking here, you will agree that what I am saying is correct.
We, as the ANC, are going to protect the state of the Republic at all costs. We are going to make sure that the security of the state and our people is at the heart of what we do. The people of South Africa know that, and that is why they will always vote for us.
So, hon Oriani-Ambrosini, I'm sorry that you could not speak well because you are sick. However, even if people had heard what you were saying, they would not have agreed with you. They never agreed with you in the committee. In fact, nobody agreed with the hon Oriani-Ambrosini in the committee. I don't know why he is raising the issue again here.
I am saying to the ANC, we must support the President and congratulate him on his vision. The President did not just sign the Bill, but he went through the Bill and applied his mind, because he is the President of the people, chosen by the people of South Africa, and he will still be chosen by the people of South Africa. [Applause.] I thank you. [Applause.]
Chair, freedom is slavery. The George Orwell mantra from his book 1984 is coming true. It seems as if the ANC views all forms of freedom as open spaces that must be occupied in a bid to eradicate this form of slavery. All freedoms must be replaced by absolute equality in all places of society. Transformation has become a tool whereby all diversity and peoples in South Africa are pummelled into submission to serve as mere actors in a socially engineered ANC society where everyone is not free, but at least equal.
This Protection of State Information Bill, also aptly known as the Secrecy Bill, has a fitting place within this grand scheme of social engineering. In the novel, 1984, Big Brother's principal weapon of choice is the ability to control information, all forms of expression and all forms of identity. In our 1984, we have in front of us today a Bill that mirrors this by opening a door to the control of information in society that fundamentally undermines the Constitution and the rights to freedom of expression and information. With the coming to power of the ANC, 1994 has become our very own 1984.
Die feit dat die wetsontwerp soveel keer gepaneelklop moes word vanwe die opposisie se kommer, is juis getuienis dat die ANC nie die onskuldigste van bedoelings hiermee gehad het nie. Hierdie wetsontwerp het die opposisie, die burgerlike samelewing en selfs stoere ANC-ondersteuners soos Adv George Bizos laat saamsnoer teen die ANC. Dit is alleenlik hierdie nuwe opposisie wat die ANC laat afsien het van verskeie drakoniese klousules. (Translation of Afrikaans paragraph follows.)
[The very fact that the Bill had to be panel beaten so many times because of the opposition's concerns is evidence that the ANC did not have the most innocent intentions regarding this. This Bill had the opposition, civil society and even staunch ANC supporters like Adv George Bizos joining hands together against the ANC. It is only this new opposition that forced the ANC to abandon several draconian clauses.]
While many changes to this Bill have been effected due to the hard work of fellow opposition Members of Parliament, MPs, we are still resolutely opposed to the passing of this Bill. The future does not have to be like the past or the present. It can be better. One thing is certain, though, we have to continue to fight for our freedom against this onslaught by the ANC in the future. Thank you, Chair.
Chairperson, on 25 April this year, when we debated this Bill following the National Council of Provinces' welcome amendments, I, on behalf of the ACDP, said that we believe that the all important clause 45 relating to the purported offence of improper classification does not disclose an offence, as currently formulated, and I suggested that the words "is guilty of an offence" should be inserted into clause 45 after the word "process".
I indicated that the ACDP would be petitioning the President on this and other issues. The hon Dene Smuts and I then drafted a petition, including these concerns as well as tagging concerns, and the incorrect reference number in clause 42. As you know, President Zuma referred the Bill back to Parliament on these very two issues that we raised with him.
The effect of the amendment to clause 45 is that journalists and whistleblowers who possess or disclose improperly classified information, where such possession or disclosure shows criminal activity, including improperly classified documents to hide corrupt activities, will no longer be guilty of an offence. The ACDP, when we proposed the amendment, made certain that it was inserted, and we support this correction as it speaks to the very important improper classification that hon Dene Smuts and I had requested.
We were concerned, and many people in the public are concerned, that the Bill will be used to hide corrupt activities. Without this amendment, it would have gone to the heart of the Bill and that is the reason why we supported this proposal when it came back to the committee.
However, the reason why we as the ACDP abstained from voting is the larger issue of the referral under section 79 of the Constitution. The Constitutional Court made it very clear in the Liquor Bill matter that section 79 clearly envisages that the President's reservations must be specified when he refers the Bill back to Parliament. The court also said that this requirement negatives the notion that the court's function is to determine, once and for all, whether a Bill accords in its entirety with the Constitution.
This makes eminent sense and the President's section 79 referral must be specific. This was the case with previous referrals, where exact arguments were given and the exact clause references were given. However, in this case, it is very clear that it was a vague referral. As Parliament, we cannot act on vague referrals without the risk, as hon Smuts said, of creating a precedent where, when the President does not like a Bill, he refers it back with vague specifications. He has to assent to a Bill, except where he has specific constitutional reservations.
All that we in the committee asked for was clarity from the President as it was unclear. This was refused by the committee, placing us in the ACDP in a dilemma. What we had requested was approved to a certain degree, but our concerns related to the process. Whilst we welcome the amendments, we still believe that the matter should be referred to the Constitutional Court for its final approval. It is for that reason that, regrettably, we are unable to support this Bill today. Thank you. [Applause.]
Chairperson, what has been said here by the opposition indicates that they tried to reopen the Bill for futher discussion, and they lost. It was very clear that the President wanted us to deal with two clauses, which is exactly what we did.
I have never in my life heard of a country that is transparent, even with regard to secrets that are necessary for its survival. The Bill has been called names. We were here and we all listened. People couldn't get themselves to call the Bill by its real name. It is called the Information Bill. Some prefer to call it the Secrecy Bill, this being only to hoodwink our people into thinking that there is something secretive about the Bill.
The real aim of the Bill is to protect sensitive state information and no one in the opposition said exactly that. It is to provide protection of certain valuable state information against alteration, loss or unlawful disclosure, and to regulate the manner in which state information may be protected. I've never heard any of them saying "valuable state information". That is the name of the Bill. Why don't they say it?
In addition to the broad outlines provided above, the Bill aims to strike a balance between the protection of state information and access to information. The Bill, for example, states that "access to state information is a basic human right". The free flow of state information promotes openness, responsiveness, informed debate, accountability and good governance. This is what the ANC is saying. No one in the opposition is saying that. The key words in the whole Bill are "state information", or may I say "sensitive state information". [Applause.] It is therefore very surprising that some people in this House are vehemently against this very reasonable Bill.
As I said earlier, in which country would sensitive information be given to the whole world in the name of openness? If we as a country had invented the most sophisticated missile, are we supposed to advertise it to the whole world, including our enemies? This wouldn't be openness, accountability or good governance, but would be stupidity of the worst order. [Applause.] What do these people, who are in this House, want to do with such information? Do they perhaps want to peddle it? All these laws, regulations and policies were established by the ANC in order to make South Africa a better place to live in for all of us and not for a certain section of the population which, anyway, was previously spoilt. Did this happen before 1994?
HON MEMBERS: No!
If it didn't then, why do they want it to happen today? Some of them were in that Parliament, but never raised a finger in this regard.
There were only two areas in the Bill that were referred back to Parliament by the President, but the opposition wanted to open the whole Bill for further discussion only because they never had their way. As long as we, as the ANC, are still in power, they will never have their way, however much they moan, howl and whinge. Anyway, they will never be in power until ... [Laughter.]
... the chickens come home to roost. [Laughter.] Being in power is not about bulldozing. It is what is called democracy in simple English. The ANC definitely supports the amendments to the Bill. Thank you, hon Chairperson. [Applause.]
Chairperson, hon members, Deputy President, there is a difference between a governing party and parties that want to govern. There is always a difference. These parties never governed a single country and they want to make South Africa a banana republic. We, as the ANC, will not allow that. [Interjections.]
The President's reservations on the Bill were not just about technical errors, as is alleged by the minority parties here. To go on and say that the President had fallen foul of the Constitution by failing to give Members of Parliament an exact brief is baffling. What brief did you expect from the President? In the committee, we were saying - hon Smuts will understand that -that section 79(1) of the Constitution is prescriptive and that is why the President directed us to clauses 42 and 45. Do you disagree that those clauses needed attention? [Interjections.]
I hear people talking here. It is a pity, hon Smuts, that you are not the one who talked here as it is always the arrangement in your party. I know what is happening there. [Laughter.] What Cope said here, if you were listening, is really confusing. That Cope member was a political tourist in the committee. [Laughter.] He would come and never read a document without wearing the glasses of the DA. Whenever he read a document, he would borrow glasses from the DA and read with the mind of the DA. That is why he said here what he had said.
They say the referral was vague, yet it is they who are saying from this podium the President referred us to clauses 42 and 45. [Interjections.] I wonder how vague is that? I do not even think you have read the letter, because you were never there when we as the committee read the letter.
Hon Ambrosini was saying - in fact it was not the first time that hon Ambrosini opened a can of worms ...
Uvula nje itoti yeentshulube yena. [He opened a can of worms.
Hon Ambrosini said that was an opportunity to start from clause 1. That was not the brief. I have never seen what I saw in that committee. Lawyers were fighting about who the best lawyer was. Lawyers did not trust their own intellectual capacities, but would rely on other opinions. I could not believe that. The fight was between hon Dene Smuts and hon Ambrosini. The one was saying there is a lawyer whose opinion we as a committee need to take. And the other one said, I brought that opinion. We had to listen to such things, instead of dealing with what the President had referred to the committee.
It is a pity hon Ambrosini is not well, because he was writing letters complaining that he was not informed about meetings. I have proof from this Table and the Secretary that he was informed about meetings, but he did not go to the meetings, perhaps because of his ill health. Oh! There he is. [Laughter.] [Interjections.] You were sent an SMS at 05:35 on 7 November.
False! That is false!
What is false? You were sent an SMS at 05:35 and that SMS went to all of us, and all of us were discussing the Bill according to the letter of the President. For hon Steve Swart to say the letter was vague, we discussed that. Hon member, as an individual, you can say that the letter was vague, but the letter pointed directly to two clauses that we had to deal with. What is vague in that? What is vague in that? But ...
... ons, as die ANC, het ons s ges... [... we, as the ANC, have had our say ...]
... and the Bill is going to go through accordingly. As opposition parties, it is your work to oppose. It is your duty. You are paid to oppose us; go on opposing. The ANC supports the Bill. Thank you. [Applause.]
House Chairperson, let me start by thanking the committee for doing superior work. Perhaps I should start by responding to hon Mazibuko, the Leader of the Opposition, and assist her about her false allegations.
Firstly, she says the referral did not deal with substantive issues in the Bill. For the last three years, hon Mazibuko, we, as this Parliament, have been dealing with substantive issues of the Bill. We have made considerable progress in improving the Bill. As the ANC and the Ministry, we have always said that we will welcome all amendments which will improve the Bill in terms of its effectiveness and its constitutionality.
In a second allegation she said the referral was just looking at technical errors. Let me help her by reading the letter from the President. It says:
I have given consideration to the Bill in its entirety and the various opinions ...
Not one opinion -
... and commentaries regarding, inter alia, the constitutionality and tagging of the Bill.
Therefore, he did not just consider one view or referral. I proceed:
After consideration of the Bill and having applied my mind thereto, I am of the view that the Bill as it stands does not pass constitutional muster.
That is the letter from the President.
The third false allegation is of the referral being vague. The referral was not vague at all. It was self-explanatory. Let me read it to you. [Interjections.] Yes, I'll read it.
In terms of section 79(1) of the Constitution, I hereby refer the attached Bill to the National Assembly for consideration insofar as sections of the Bill, in particular ...
[Interjections.] Yes, let me finish -
... sections 42 and 45, lack meaning and coherence, consequently are irrational and accordingly are unconstitutional.
Hon Mazibuko, what was the basic problem? The basic problem was the capacity to correct technical mistakes. Some of them were very material, such as when you intend to construct a sentence and you are not actually constructing a sentence.
One of those areas was an area about which Parliament had expressed itself to say people who falsely classify documents for the wrong reason, reasons other than this law, must be punished. Now, if the law, which we are passing as Parliament, does not create an offence, it is material, because Parliament felt very strongly about it.
The fourth allegation is the possession of classified information which we have the responsibility to take back. That's material. That is why the President said those clauses specifically needed to be addressed. Because of what I have said earlier about the problem of the capacity to deal with technical errors, the members are saying that the President must have said on page one that there was a technical error and on page two there was another. That is what the Leader of the Opposition is trying to say.
Hon Ambrosini, let me thank you for your views, even if they are incorrect. Despite the attack from the members of the opposition, you've got views. But today you are saying there is no need for this Bill. That is basically your argument. Let me remind you what made us bring this Bill here. For the first time in this country, we are introducing a declassification system of classified information, which was never there, so that people, after a reasonable time, can have access to this information in order to know what happened in the past and so that those who want to conduct research can do so.
We are saying we are protecting valuable information that is not classified. The Leader of the Opposition says it is not material, but it matters to a lot of people. Those who get their identification documents falsely changed are not classified, but that is in the hands of the state. The Bill tells us that we must protect that information so that it should not be interfered with. It means something to those who have companies that are changed because of the database of our President. Therefore, as the ANC, we really support this Bill. [Time expired.] [Applause.]
Hon Chairperson, I move:
That the Report be adopted and the Bill be passed.
The question is before the House. Those in favour will say, "Aye".
HON MEMBERS: Aye!
Those against will say, "No!"
HON MEMBERS: No!
I think the Ayes have it.
The House divided:
AYES - 224: Abram, S; Adams, P E; Ainslie, A R; Bam-Mugwanya, V; Beukman, F; Bhengu, F; Bhengu, P; Bhengu, N R; Bikani, F C; Bonhomme, T; Booi, M S; Borman, G M; Boshigo, D F; Botha, Y R; Bothman, S G; Burgess, C V; Carrim, Y I; Cele, M A; Chabane, O C; Chikunga, L S; Chili, D O; Chiloane, T D; Chohan, F I; Coleman, E M; Cronin, J P; Cwele, S C; Dambuza, B N; Daniels, P N; Davies, R H; De Lange, J H; Diale, L N; Dikgacwi, M M; Dlakude, D E; Dlodlo, A; Dlomo, B J; Dlulane, B N; Dubazana, Z S; Dube, M C; Duma, N M; Dunjwa, M L; Ebrahim, E I; Fransman, M L; Fubbs, J L; Gasebonwe, T M A; Gaum, A H; Gcwabaza, N E; Gelderblom, J P; Gina, N; Godi, N T; Gololo, C L; Goqwana, M B; Gumede, D M; Hajaig, F; Hanekom, D A; Holomisa, S P; Huang, S- B; Jeffery, J H; Joemat-Pettersson, T M; Johnson, M; Kekana, C D; Kenye, T E; Khoarai, L P; Kholwane, S E; Khumalo, F E; Khunou, N P; Koornhof, G W; Kota-Fredericks, Z A; Kubayi, M T; Landers, L T; Lekgetho, G; Lesoma, R M M; Line-Hendriks, H; Lishivha, T E; Luyenge, Z; Maake, J J; Mabasa, X; Mabedla, N R; Mabudafhasi, T R; Mabuza, M C; Madlala, N M; Madlopha, C Q; Mafolo, M V; Magagula, V V; Magama, H T; Magubane, E; Magwanishe, G; Mahomed, F; Makasi, X C; Makhubela-Mashele, L S; Makhubele, Z S; Makwetla, S P; Malgas, H H; Maluleka, H P; Maluleke, J M; Manamela, K B; Manana, M C; Manganye, J; Mangena, M S; Mapisa-Nqakula, N N; Maserumule, F T; Mashatile, S P; Mashigo, R M; Mashishi, A C; Masilo, J M; Masutha, T M; Mathale, C C; Mathebe, D H; Mathibela, N F; Matshoba, J M; Maunye, M M; Mavunda, D W; Mayatula, S M; Maziya, A M; Mdaka, M N; Mdakane, M R; Mfeketo, N C; Mfulo, A; Mgabadeli, H C; Mjobo, L N; Mkhize, H B; Mlambo, E M; Mmusi, S G; Mnisi, N A; Mocumi, P A; Moepeng, J K; Mohai, S J; Mohale, M C; Mohorosi, M M; Mokoena, A D; Molebatsi, M A; Molewa, B E E; Moloi-Moropa, J C; Moloto, K A; Moni, C M; Morutoa, M R; Moss, L N; Motlanthe, K P; Motsepe, R M; Motshekga, M S; Mthethwa, E N; Mushwana, F F; Muthambi, A F; Nwamitwa- Shilubana, T L P; Nchabeleng, M E; Ndabandaba, L G B; Ndabeni, S T; Ndebele, J S; Ndlazi, A Z; Nelson, W J; Nene, N M; Newhoudt-Druchen, W S; Ngcengwane, N D; Ngcobo, E N N; Ngcobo, B T; Ngele, N J; Ngubeni-Maluleka, J P; Ngwenya, W; Nhlengethwa, D G; Njikelana, S J; Ntuli, B M; Ntuli, Z C; Nxesi, T W; Nxumalo, M D; Nyalungu, R E; Nyanda, S; Nyekemba, E; Nzimande, B E; Oliphant, M N; Oliphant, G G; Pandor, G N M; Peters, E D; Petersen- Maduna, P; Phaliso, M N; Pilane-Majake, M C C; Pilusa-Mosoane, M E; Pule, D D; Radebe, B A; Radebe, J T; Radebe, G S; Ramathlodi, N A; Ramodibe, D M; Saal, G; Schneemann, G D; Segale-Diswai, M J; Selau, G J; September, C C; Sibanyoni, J B; Sibiya, D; Sindane, G S; Sisulu, M V; Sithole, S C N; Sizani, P S; Skosana, J J; Smith, V G; Snell, G T; Sogoni, E M; Sonto, M R; Sosibo, J E; Sotyu, M M; Suka, L; Sulliman, E M; Swanepoel, D W; Thobejane, S G; Thomson, B; Tinto, B; Tlake, M F; Tobias, T V; Tsebe, S R; Tseke, G K; Tsenoli, S L; Tshabalala, J; Tsotetsi, D R; Turok, B; Twala, N M; van Rooyen, D D; Van Schalkwyk, M C J; Van Wyk, A; Wayile, Z G; Williams, A J; Williams-De Bruyn, S T; Xasa, T; Ximbi, D L; Xingwana, L M; Yengeni, L E.
NOES - 88: Adams, L H; Alberts, A D; Berend, S R; Bhanga, B M; Boinamo, G G; Bosman, L L; Botha, T; Buthelezi, M G; Coetzee, T W; Davidson, I O; De Freitas, M S F; Dreyer, A M; Duncan, P C; Eloff, E H; Esau, S; Farrow, S B; Ferguson, B D; George, D T; George, M E; Greyling, L W; Hill-Lewis, G G; James, W G; Kalyan, S V; Kganare, D A; Kilian, J D; Kloppers-Lourens, J C; Kohler Barnard, D; Koornhof, N N J v R; Krumbock, G R; Lamoela, H; Lorimer, J R B; Lotriet, A; Lovemore, A T; Mac Kenzie, G P D; Makhuba, H N; Marais, S J F; Marais, E J; Maynier, D J; Mazibuko, L D; Mbhele, P D; McIntosh, G B D; Mfundisi, I S; Michael, N W A; Mileham, K J; Mokgalapa, S; More, E; Mosimane, C K K; Motau, S C; Mpethi, S A; Mpontshane, A M; Msimang, C T; Msweli, H S; Mulder, P W A; Mulder, C P; Ndlovu, V B; Ndude, H N; Ngonyama, L S; Njobe, M A A; Ollis, I M; Oriani-Ambrosini, M G; Plaatjie, S K; Rabie, P J; Rabotapi, M W; Ramatlakane, L; Robinson, D; Rodgers, F A; Ross, D C; Sayedali Shah, M R; Schfer, D A; Schmidt, H C; Shinn, M R; Singh, N; Sithole, K P; Skosana, M B; Smith, P F; Smuts, M; Steenhuisen, J H; Steyn, A C; Steyn, A; Swart, S N; Van den Berg, N J; Van der Linde, J J; Van der Merwe, L L; Van der Westhuizen, A P; Van Dyk, S M; Waters, M; Watson, A; Zikalala, C N Z.
Motion agreed to.
Report adopted and Bill accordingly passed.