The Right2Know campaign is compiling a list of South Africa’s top 10 secrets in consultation with communities countrywide.
The idea is to highlight the dangers of the Protection of Information Bill by asking communities about secrets they would like disclosed.
The campaign, which culminates on Freedom Day, April 27, takes place during a hiatus in Parliament’s processing of the Bill. The ad hoc committee is expected to present a report in June. The campaign calls for the legislative process to begin afresh, informed by public
R2K has held meetings in Soweto, Sebokeng, Harrismith and Durban. It has emerged that community members often know of their right to information, but do not know how to enforce it.
In Sebokeng residents said they had struggled to gain access to their medical records. Others said they had been retrenched from local factories and had tried for years to obtain compensation for industrial health problems.
“A couple of hundred people came to the [Sebokeng] meeting. Environmental issues, pollution and health were big issues,” said Dale McKinley, R2K national working group member.
The way party lists were composed was also a “secret” of deep concern to residents. “How did certain names get on the lists? People wanted more transparency,” noted Jayshree Pather, of R2K’s Gauteng regional group.
In the Free State the main concern was the unexplained proposal to close the N3. Said Harrismith resident Tshepo Masilowane: “We already have ghost towns because there is so much unemployment. If they close the N3, a source of business and income for many people will go.”
R2K’s KwaZulu-Natal coordinator, Quinton Kippen, said that the biggest issue for those who attended the Durban meeting was not knowing how to access information.
Glenda Daniels serves on the National Working Group of the Right2Know campaign.