The Committee short-listed the submissions on the Protection of Information Bill that would be presented at the public hearings on 21 and 22 July 2010. They noted that most of the submissions were of very good quality and they looked forward to the public hearings. Three of the submissions were deemed to be off the point. The Chairperson said that even late submissions would be considered as he wanted the public hearings to be as inclusive as possible. Likewise, they included both submissions from the Mail and Guardian, one of which was from the newspaper itself and the other from its non-profit organisation, Centre for Investigative Journalism. The investigative journalists at the Centre were known as the “amaBhungane” and there were sections in the Bill dealing with offences and penalties that would affect investigative journalism. The Centre for Investigative Journalism would speak on this matter, and the Mail and Guardian would deal with the broader aspects of the Bill. To publicise the call for submissions, the Chairperson noted that radio adverts had been used plus they had contacted all the people who had sent in submissions on the previous 2008 Bill.
Consideration of Submissions on the Protection of Information Bill
The Chairperson opened the meeting and announced that members who were absent were Mr J De Lange (ANC) who was ill; Ms A Van Wyk (ANC) was also ill; Ms A Dlodlo (ANC) was attending a funeral on behalf of the President in Angola; Dr Oriani-Ambrosini (IFP) was presently in the United States. The purpose of the meeting was to shortlist the presenters of oral submissions at the public hearings to be held on 21 and 22 July 2010. The Committee had received approximately 24 submissions. The Committee had advertised through the radio a week before the 25 June 2010 closing date for submissions. It had also phoned interested parties that had made submissions on the previous 2008 Protection of Information Bill. Many of the previous participants were aware that the Bill had been re-introduced in Parliament. However, they complained that various issues had hindered them from submitting their comments on time. He had informed the committee staff that late submissions were not to be excluded, as the Committee wanted the process to be more inclusive rather than exclusive. He reported that, at this stage, most of the role players that had participated in the previous Bill, had now made submissions on the 2010 Bill. There were also other interested parties that had made submissions on the Bill.
The Chairperson pointed out to the Committee that Dr Laurie Nathan had mistakenly attached another submission of the Southern African Catholic Bishops Conference (SACBC) to his submission on the Protection of Information Bill. The submissions were stapled together by mistake. Members were to ignore SACBC submission.
The Chairperson stated that there were some submissions that appeared to be off the point. However, on the whole, the submissions seemed to be very good and useful. He hoped that the submissions would assist in the final processing of the legislation. He asked if the Members were in possession of all the documents. There was an index for the submissions submitted on the Bill.
Mr T Coetzee (DA) replied that some members did not have all the submissions. He was only in possession of the first fifteen submissions prior to the meeting. The intention had been that Members should come to the meeting fully prepared with all the documents, so that they could shortlist the submissions.
The Chairperson explained that many of the submissions had come in quite late. There were also a number of people that had trouble submitting their documents. He had told the staff to courier any of the submissions that they received to Members. Other submissions were put in Members’ pigeonholes.
Mr Coetzee said he had only received the first fifteen submissions in his pigeonhole; nothing had been couriered to him.
The Chairperson said that there was nothing he could do about it now, however, he noted Mr Coetzee’s concern.
The Committee Secretary distributed a list of the people that had made submissions on the Bill. The Chairperson pointed out on the listed that the Mail and Guardian had made two submissions. One submission was from the Mail and Guardian itself and the other submission came from the Mail and Guardian’s Centre for Investigative Journalism. The Centre was an NGO that had been operating since April 2010. The Mail and Guardian submission was made by Mr Nic Dawes, the Editor in Chief. The other submission from the Centre was made by Mr Stefaans Brummer. The request was that they be allowed to present their submissions separately. At the moment, they were listed as one submission. The Committee should decide whether the submissions should be separated. He poimted out that there were two submissions from Print Media South Africa (PMSA). However, one was merely a summary of the other so this should be regarded as one submission.
Mr N Fihla (ANC) said that Mr Brummer and Mr Dawes should be allowed to present their submissions separately as long as the submissions dealt with different issues.
Mr L Landers (ANC) commented that Parliament prided itself on ensuring that public hearings were as inclusive as possible. He proposed that the Committee adhere to this rule. The Committee’s task was made easier by the quality of the submissions, which were very good.
Ms H Mgabadeli (ANC) said that there was a submission from the University of the
Mr Landers suggested that there were three submissions that should not be included in the public hearings. He proposed that Dr Ramola Naidoo’s submission, the submission from the University of the Free State Honour students, and the submission made by Mr Teboho Khauoe should be excluded. The University of the
The Chairperson agreed with Mr Landers’ proposal. He added that Dr Naidoo’s submission could be referred to the Justice Portfolio Committee for consideration. The petition from the University of the
Mr Landers replied that the two submissions, even though one submission came from the NGO, came from the same journalists that the Mail and Guardian used. It was a group of journalists that formed a group that was called “amaBhungane”. There were sections in the Bill that were going to affect investigative journalism. They were particularly concerned about the section on offences and penalties. He suggested that the Committee get the Centre for Investigative Journalism’s opinion on that matter, and the Mail and Guardian could deal with the broader aspects of the Bill.
Mr D Maynier (DA) supported the proposal put forward by Mr Landers. He wanted absolute clarification on the issue. He thought that the submissions were made by separate entities. The submissions seemed to be differentiated and in the spirit of inclusiveness, the Committee had to receive presentations from both entities.
The Chairperson noted that the Mail and Guardian submission would be considered as two separate submissions. He stated that Committee’s usually allocated a maximum of thirty minutes to each presenter. There would be fifteen minutes for the presentation and fifteen minutes for interaction. He suggested that the Committee notify those that would be presenting that they should come to the morning or afternoon session, rather than giving the presenters a specific time. He did not expect that the Committee would run overtime. Some of the presenters could finish earlier and the Committee did not want to have to wait for the next presenter, who had been told to come at a later time. Therefore, the Committee could tell a certain amount of people to come in the morning period and a certain amount of people to come in the afternoon.
Mr Maynier agreed with the Chairpersons proposal, but wondered if the presenters should be given an estimated time that they could expect to present their submission.
The Chairperson answered that Committees often experienced problems where presenters withdrew their submissions. This created quite a disturbance and Committee’s were often forced to adjourn and wait for the next presentation. The Committee did not have the time to sit around and wait for people. He thought it would be interesting, from a public participation point, if the role players could listen to other role players’ submissions.
Mr Maynier replied that he had been persuaded.
The Chairperson stated that the next Committee meeting would take place on 20 July 2010. Members were expected to go over all the submissions. The meeting would be held to inform Members of the programme for the public hearings. The Committee would also discuss how the presenters would be interviewed. He looked forward to the public hearings as most of the submissions seemed to be very interesting.
The meeting was adjourned.
- Freedom of Expression Institute submission
- Cape Chamber of Commerce submission
- Print Media South Africa summary
- COSATU submission
- Open Democracy Advice Centre submission
- Index of submissions on the Protection of Information Bill [B6-2010]
- Durban Legal Research Association submission
- Eskom submission
- Centre of Constitutional Rights submission
- South African National Editors' Forum [SANEF] submission
- Mail & Guardian & Mail & Guardian Centre for Investigative Journalism
- Institute for Democracy in South Africa [IDASA] submission
- Institute for Security Studies & Open Society Justice Initiative [ISS] submission
- South African Media & Gender Institute [SAMGI] submission
- Southern African Catholic Bishop's Conference [SACBC] submission
- Summary of Print Media SA [PMSA]
- Dr Laurie Nathan submission
- South African History Archive & Nelson Mandela Foundation [SAHA & NMF] submission
- South African Human Rights Commission submission
- We don't have attendance info for this committee meeting
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