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E-campaign launched against info bill

Dec 06 2011 17:19 Sapa

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Cape Town - The Democratic Alliance has launched an e-mobilisation campaign to stop the Protection of State Information Bill in its current form.

The DA had consistently argued for the inclusion of a "public interest" defence clause to protect those who possessed or published information in the public interest, DA leader Helen Zille told media at Parliament on Tuesday.

"When the bill was rammed through [the National Assembly] last month without this important clause, we said we would not give up the fight," she said.

The DA's e-mobilisation campaign would reach out to its extended network of millions of South Africans, and ask them to get involved in pressurising government to withdraw the bill in its current form.

"[On Tuesday] we will be signing a generic letter to the President that all South Africans can download from the DA's website, sign, and email to the President's office.

"We will also be signing a petition that we will send to the President if the bill passed through the National Council of Provinces without the necessary amendments, asking him not to sign the bill into law."

South Africans could also help by registering their concerns with the Presidential Hotline on 17737.

Another avenue was to organise impromptu protests by using social media, also known as a flash mob.

The DA had already staged seven flash mobs at events around the country and knew of at least forty more flash mobs planned in the coming months.

Zille called on all South Africans to support this mobilisation campaign by signing the petition, sending the letter to the President, and by calling his office.

The full details of how South Africans could get involved could be found at www.da.org.za/campaigns.htm

Apart from the mobilisation campaign, the DA would continue to propose crucial amendments while the bill went through the National Council of Provinces.

If the DA's amendments in the NCOP were rejected, and the bill was sent to the President for assent, the party would petition him to refer it back to the National Assembly.

Should all other avenues be exhausted, the DA would invoke Section 80 of the Constitution for the first time in South Africa's history.

Section 80 allowed MPs to refer a bill directly to the Constitutional Court should such an application be supported by at least one third of the members of the National Assembly, and be made within 30 days of the President assenting to and signing the Act.

"In the end, a sustained increase in public pressure may be what it takes to get the ANC to withdraw the bill in its current form. We will play our part in mobilising the South African people against the bill.

"We have not given up the fight," Zille said.

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