S.Africa's ANC shelves secrecy bill amid outcry

19th September 2011, Comments 0 comments

South Africa's ruling African National Congress on Monday shelved a controversial secrecy bill after a widespread outcry that it would muzzle investigations into government wrongdoing.

"There are still interested parties who need further hearing, as well as other parties who have made late submissions," ANC chief whip Mathole Motshekga told journalists.

"The ANC caucus has therefore decided not to table the bill tomorrow (Tuesday) to allow parliament to engage further."

The backtrack came on the eve of a parliamentary debate where the ANC was expected to use its majority to vote to turn the Protection of State Information Bill into law.

Activists and media groups feared the legislation would stifle whistleblowers and investigative journalists who possessed or disclosed classified material with jail terms of up to 25 years.

Mounting public opposition saw a march in Cape Town and night vigils planned with more than 55,000 signatures and more than 35,000 emails sent to parliament's chief whip's office in recent days.

© 2011 AFP

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