FXI TO CONTINUE FIGHTING AGAINST SECRECY BILL
By: Bekhekile Khuphe
The Freedom of Expression Institute (FXI) held a workshop at the Albany Hotel in Durban on Wednesday in a bid to promote free expression and information access for appropriate governance.
The workshop, led by Siphiwe Segodi from the Gauteng Province, interrogated in the negativities that can be inflicted by the Secrecy Bill, which might be signed into law soon. He said that freedom of expression comes in various forms, including the right to protest.
“Freedom of expression is in a challenging environment, if this right is violated it is going to be tough to access other rights as well,” Segodi said.
Segodi added the public needs to be taught about the impacts that might arise if the Secrecy Bill is passed.
“We need to make it understandable to indigenous people about the problems that are likely to arise if the Secrecy Bill is signed into law. We need to strike middle grounds when it comes to such laws and power is in the hands of people. They need to be educated and informed,” he said.
Segodi elaborated that if the Bill is passed, there will be huge issues of corruption, and maladministration in local and provincial governing that will remain unexposed. He said that this will take the country back to the apartheid era and it also questions Section 16 of the Constitution which gives people the right to express themselves freely.
“The government will abuse power and this Bill will not impact only on the media but also across the board,” he added further.
Present at the meeting was Joanne Adams, organiser of events from the Right To Know in Durban. She said that they will keep on protesting against the Bill.
“We will stick up protests against the Bill and teach the public about it and also impacts that it may have on their lives. The popular uprising can make those in positions change their minds,” she said.
Adams added that people have to remain vigilant and different organisations and the media need to look on different strategies on how the state can be approached.
Sheniece Linderboom, also from FXI, said that everyone has the right to express themselves freely and limitations placed on people can be a huge setback to a country.
“Freedom of expression is an important feature of any democracy, creating a space to speak and to be heard. It serves as a powerful tool of political engagement,” she said.
After lots of reshuffling of the Secrecy Bill since its introduction in 2010, it was voted in favour by 189 members of parliament with 74 against and one abstention in April this year.
The Bill was then sent to President Jacob Zuma for approval but he sent it back to the National Assembly for reconsideration before being signed into law.
No specific reasons were given on this action. It was passed on the 12th of November again and the public now awaits what is going to happen next.