25 July 2024 | 12:27 PM

Advocacy: Right2Know Campaign shows impact

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Key Takeaways

MPs met in Parliament today (29 October) in the wake of the Right2Know Campaign’s Week of Action.

The Week of Action brought together thousands of South Africans from all walks of life to oppose the apartheid-style Secrecy Bill (officially the ‘Protection of Information Bill”).

After intensive community organising and awareness raising of the potential impact of the Bill on the lives of ordinary people, we flooded the streets of Johannesburg, Durban and Cape Town to make ourselves heard.

R2K Marchers Make Waves

The impact of last week’s Right2Know march to parliament, that saw thousands of South Africans come together to voice their opposition to The Secrecy Bill, reverberated loud and clear among the members of the the ad hoc committee on Protection of Information bill.

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{C}On October 27 we marched on Parliament, where MPs are bound to consider the views of their electorate. In a show of solidarity reminiscent of mass democratic movement protests in the 1980s, the R2K march was led by leaders of all South Africa’s major faiths, broad-based civil society organisations, academia, the media and trade unions.

Inside the halls of Parliament today, our demands have finally started to reverberate.

R2K notes a first discernable shift in the tone of the ad-hoc committee processing the Bill. In particular, ANC MP Vytjie Mentoor’s statement that ‘you cannot sacrifice human rights at the altar of state security or the altar of secrecy” signals hope for a counter-current to Ministry of State Security, whose securocratic preoccupation has dictated the tone of the debate in the committee to date.

The Ministry’s mindset is demonstrated no better than through Minister Siyabonga Cwele’s statement before the same committee last month that secrecy is ‘the oil that lubricates our democracy”.

Mentoor’s views, we believe, represent the tip of the iceberg among ordinary ANC members and leaders who have thus far refrained from speaking out against the Secrecy Bill.

No longer should the minister and his securocrats monopolise the debate. R2K will continue to educate and activate until the Secrecy Bill is defeated. Let the truth be told. Stop the Secrecy Bill!

About the Right2Know (R2K) Campaign:

The Right2Know Campaign is concerned that the Protection of Information Bill – also known as the Secrecy Bill – currently before Parliament will fundamentally undermine hard-won constitutional rights including access to information and freedom of expression.

R2K is an umbrella campaign representing a broad front of civil society groups. The R2K statement – ‘Let the truth be told. Stop the Secrecy Bill!” – was drafted following public hearings on the Bill in July 2010 and demands that secrecy legislation must comply with constitutional values. It is based on detailed submissions made to Parliament by civil society groups.

Over 400 civil society organizations and 11,300 individuals have signed up to the R2K statement.

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Before joining the amaBhungane team in 2017, Micah was the national coordinator for media freedom and diversity at the Right2Know Campaign. He holds a Masters in African Studies from Oxford University and a BA Honours in History from Wits University.

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