Citizens opposed to the Protection of State Information Bill, otherwise known as the Secrecy Bill, are strongly encouraged to attend public hearings in their area, the Parliamentary Liaision Office (CPLO) of the Southern African Catholic Bishops Conference urges in a newsletter today.
After being approved – by 229 votes against 107 – by the National Assembly in November amid protests around the country, the bill is now before the National Council of Provinces which has released a schedule of public hearings into the proposed legislation. The ad hoc committee dealing with the Bill will be convening hearings at various centres around the country between today and March 1, followed by further public hearings in Parliament on March 13 and 14.
“The decision to take the Bill to the country in this way is a very welcome one which will maximise the number of organisations and individuals who are able to influence it. We strongly encourage you to attend the hearings in your area, and to make a submission if at all possible,” says CPLO researcher Mike Pothier.
“It is not necessary to comment on the whole Bill, or even to name specific clauses with which you may disagree (though it is certainly helpful to do so if you can); it is sufficient to inform the committee in broad terms of your feelings and concerns.”
The CPLO has compiled a list of various public hearing dates and places (see below) obtained from Parliament’s website and from press advertisements. Pothier says: “They may well change at the last minute, and exact venues will probably be published in local media nearer to the time of each hearing. Feel free to contact our office if you are having difficulty finding out where to go to attend a hearing. (It is unfortunately too late for Western-Cape based people to take part, since their hearings are today.)
Lastly, we would appreciate hearing from you if you do indeed attend one of the hearings – was it well organised and well attended? Were people given a proper chance to have their say? Were submissions taken seriously by committee members?”
The CPLO can be contacted at 021 461 1417 or email@example.com.
The CPLO letter provides the following information on how citizens can make their voices be heard:
1. You can make written submissions to Parliament
The deadline for these submissions is Friday 17 February 2012 at 12:00. Some of these submissions will be selected for presentation to Parliament. by making written submissions to Parliament which must reach Parliament by 12:00 on Friday, February 17. Some of these submissions will be selected for presentation to Parliament.
Written submissions should be sent to: The Secretary of Parliament, PO Box 15, Cape Town 8000, for the attention of Mr G Dixon. For a copy of the bill, contact Mr Dixon on 021 403 3771, fax 086 658 9371 or firstname.lastname@example.org. Or visit www.parliament.gov.za.
2. You can attend public hearings in your area
Public hearings will be held from 9am to 4pm in the following areas (see your local newspaper, community and regional radio stations for details): All are welcome. You can speak out, even if you have not submitted a written submission. Please note these venues are subject to change at short notice and you need to check your local press or Parliament’s website for final details.
Western Cape – 31 January
Gugulethu Sports Complex, NY1, Cape Metropolitan District Municipality
Thembalethu Multipurpose Complex, Eden District, George
Eastern Cape – 2 February
Nelson Mandela Metropolitan Municipality, Nangoza Jebe Hall, Port Elizabeth
OR Tambo District Municipality, Vulindlela Heights, Umtata
For more information contact Ms Khanyi Fumba on 041- 454 3913/ 073 215 6616
Joe Gqadi District Municipality, Barkley East Town Hall, Barkley East
For more information contact Mr Asanda Mayoyo on 045- 971 0123/ 073 596 5915
Free State – 6/7 February
Thabo Mofutsanyane District Municipality, Phuthaditjhaba Town hall
Mangaung Metropolitan Municipality, Braam Fisher Hall
Gauteng – 13/14 February
Tswane Metropolitan Municipality, Venue to be confirmed
Sedibeng District Municipality, Sharpeville Community Hall, Gauteng
KwaZulu-Natal – 15/16 February
Zululand District Municipality, Mondlo Township, Vryheid, Venue to be confirmed
Ugu District Municipality, Harding, Venue to be confirmed
eThekwini Metropolitan Municipality, Umlazi Township, Venue to be confirmed
North West – 21 February
Bojanala District Municipality, Venue to be confirmed
Dr Kenneth Kaunda District Municipality, Klerksdorp, Venue to be confirmed
Mpumalanga – 23 February
Ehlanzeni District Municipality, Mapulaneng College, Mpumalanga
Gert Sibande District Municipality, Lilian Ngouyi Community Centre, Mpumalanga
Limpopo – 28 February
Mopane District Municipality, Mamaila, Venue to be confirmed
Waterberg District Municipality, Mokopane, Venue to be confirmed
Capricorn District Municipality, Mafefe, Venue to be confirmed
John Taolo Gaetsewei District Municipality, Moshaweng, Moshaweng Multi-Purpose Center
Northern Cape – 1 March
Francis Baard District Municipality, Galeshewe Community Hall, Kimberley
John Taolo Gaetsewei District Municipality, Venue to be confirmed
Cape Town Parliament
Public hearings 13 – 14 March
For more information visit the Parliament website www.parliament.gov.za
Follow the debate on the legislative process on Parliament’s facebook site at www.facebook.com/ParliamentofRSA
Add your voice on Parliament’s twitter site at www.twitter.com/ParliamentofRSA