NCOP Concerned about Parallel Engagements on Protection of State Information Bill
The National Council of Provinces (NCOP) has noted with utmost concern and discontent reports of parallel engagements between the Public Protector, Adv Thuli Mandonsela, some civil society organisations and a delegation of Members of Parliament to “discuss matters relating to Parliament’s processing of the Protection of State Information Bill”.
While we recognise the important role the Office of the Public Protector and the right of any individual or civil society groupings to express their views and advocate their positions on the Bill, it is our firm view that such engagements should not question the credibility of the internal processes and constitutional role of Parliament, as a vanguard of our hard earned democracy.
The NCOP established an Ad-hoc Committee to consider and report on the Protection of State Information Bill, as referred and transmitted to the NCOP for concurrence by the National Assembly on 22 November 2011.
As the NCOP, we want to put it on record that these parallel engagements outside the Parliamentary processes and specifically the Ad-hoc Committee on the Protection of State Information Bill are inadvertently creating very dangerous misconceptions. They create an erroneous impression that certain civil society groupings, individuals or entities of government are given more latitude to express their views outside the established Parliamentary processes.
The NCOP took a deliberate decision to visit all provinces to create a platform for public deliberations in order to ensure that all our people, civil society, individuals and any other interested party are afforded the opportunity to express their views on the Bill.
Therefore, the parallel engagements outside the Ad-hoc Committee on the Protection of the State Information Bill are contemptuous of the legislative authority of Parliament, particularly that of the NCOP, as outlined in section 44 of our Constitution. They create an impression that some civil society organisations, entities of government or individuals are in a position to influence the work of the NCOP or that of Parliament outside the established Parliamentary and Constitutional processes.
We would like to appeal to all civil society groupings, including any entity of government that has an interest in the Bill to make use of this process to express their views or make submissions to the Ad-hoc Committee on Protection of State Information when the opportunity arises.
Issued by Mr. Raseriti Johannes Tau (MP), Chairperson of the Ad-hoc Committee on the Protection of State Information.
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