Civil Society statement on POI Bill

19 August 2010, 6:59 pm

Note: The following is a statement drawn up, I understand, by Civil Society organisations, mainly for such organisations, but also for individuals, to endorse. The Institute for Security Studies is administering/organising it. According to the deadline has been extended to 20 August. Contact details are at the end of the document.

I wish to add my name to the statement.

Let the Truth be Told – Stop the Secrecy Bill!

A responsive and accountable democracy that can meet the basic needs of our people is built upon transparency and the free flow of information. The gains of South Africans’ struggle for freedom are threatened by the Protection of Information Bill (the Secrecy Bill) currently before Parliament. We accept the need to replace apartheid- era secrecy legislation. However, this Bill extends the veil of secrecy in a manner reminiscent of that same apartheid past. This Bill fundamentally undermines the struggle for whistleblower protection and access to information. It is one of a number of proposed measures which could have the combined effect of fundamentally undermining the right to access information and the freedom of expression enshrined in the Constitution.

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8 June 2010, 7:07 pm

The following is the slightly longer English version of a piece that appeared originally in Afrikaans in Rapport, 6 June 2010. Note that the sub-editors of the Afrikaans version changed my original ‘vergelyking’ to ‘teenstelling’ in my parenthetical reference to the Genootskap van Regte Afrikaners)

Next to ‘hotnot’, ‘gam’* and ‘kaffer’, the epithet that hurt me most as a child was ‘kerrienaat’ (‘curry-arse’). It conflated religion and stereotyped dietary habits (Muslims eat curry every day) into a label that instantly undermined one’s authority and sense of self when playground rivalries turned nasty. It could win any argument by dismissing the rival as a ‘kerrienaat’.

As with ‘hotnot’ or ‘kaffer’, or any such words of vilification, the word’s power over its target comes from unequal social relationships and the history of real and cultural abuse that underlies such unequal relationships (Compare the declamations by the Genootskap van Regte Afrikaners over the stereotypes of the ‘Afrikaner’ during the Eerste Taalbeweging).** ‘Kerrienaat’ was a powerful label because of the unequal relationships between a largely Christian world (no matter how secularised) and a minority Muslim community fragmented and further embattled following especially the Group Areas Act, which forced a close-knit community apart and into dispersed neighbourhoods. The dominant way of looking at the world was (is) essentially Christian or secularised Christianity, and this dominance allowed that world to define and misrepresent the non-Christian with impunity.

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SpeakZA: Blogs for a Free Press

24 March 2010, 8:14 am

Last week, shocking revelations concerning the activities of the ANC Youth League spokesperson, Nyiko Floyd Shivambu, came to the fore. According to a letter published in various news outlets, a complaint was laid by 19 political journalists with the Secretary General of the ANC, against Shivambu. This complaint letter detailed attempts by Shivambu to leak a dossier to certain journalists, purporting to expose the money laundering practices of Dumisani Lubisi, a journalist at the City Press. The letter also detailed the intimidation that followed when these journalists refused to publish these revelations.

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Blogs 4 Free Press

22 March 2010, 9:11 pm

Sipho Hlongwane, who writes at ThoughtLeader, is calling on bloggers to join him on Wednesday, 24 March, in publishing a message to the ANC and the ANC Youth League. Email him at to get further details.

Here is his appeal, grabbed from Chris Roper’s blog:

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