S.Africa's Gordimer warns on 'apartheid' secrecy bill
Nobel literature prize winner Nadine Gordimer on Monday warned that a new secrecy bill will return South Africa to apartheid-era limits on free speech.
The ruling African National Congress is set to muscle the Protection of State Information Bill through parliament on Tuesday, amid an outcry that it will muzzle whistleblowers and journalists investigating state wrongdoing.
The "ANC is taking South Africa back to the suppression of the free expression of apartheid," Gordimer told AFP.
Speaking at an 88th birthday celebration on Sunday, the writer and former apartheid critic warned that the bill went "totally against all ideas of freedom", The Times reported on Monday.
"People have fought and died to gain the opportunity for a better life, which is ruined and dirtied by corruption," she said.
"The corrupt practices and nepotism that they allow themselves is exposed if we have freedom of expression."
The ANC is expected to use its majority to approve the bill on Tuesday, after which it will pass to a lower house in parliament before going to President Jacob Zuma to sign.
The legislation, which replaces an apartheid-era law, would punish anyone holding or disclosing classified material with jail terms of up to 25 years.
Opponents have slammed the bill's tough penalties as draconian and want stronger safeguards for whistleblowers and a public interest defence that would argue exposure of classified information is in society's best interest.
Several pickets were set to take place on Monday, with the National Press Club also calling for black clothing, ribbons or armbands to be worn on Tuesday to show opposition to the bill.
© 2011 AFP