22 October 2010

Successful march held to Constitution Hill

On 19 October 2010 approximately 600 people marched from Jorrison Street to Constitutional Hill to protest against the Protection of Information Bill. The march was organised by the Right2Know campaign, a collection of NGOs including SAHA, the Freedom of Expression Institute (FXI) and Media Monitoring Africa.

The march was attended by a broad range of grass roots organisations including the Anti-Privatisation Forum (APF), Black Sash, PAWUSA, MWASA, CIVICUS and Vaal Environmental Justice Alliance.

Despite the march being advertised as a silent march, to signify the silence that the provisions of this Bill will force on South African citizens, many of the crowd refused to be silent, singing to express their opposition to the Bill.

At the end of the march the crowd was addressed by Siphiwe Segodi (FXI), Gabriella Razanno (SAHA), and Dale McKinley (APF). Gabriella Razanno highlighted that the Bill signifies a move away from the openness and transparency of government afforded by the Constitution. She stated "it is a sad day when our government starts to step backwards from our Constitution and it is our duty to force them back toward it". Ms Razzano also highlighted the discouraging effect that the Bill will have on whistleblowers, who potentially face up to 25 years in prison under the Bill, with no public interest defence available.

Dale McKinley highlighted the effect that the Bill will have on ordinary citizens, not just journalists and activist groups, stating "the Bill is fundamentally about poor people who are going to be denied access to information on basic services".

Find out more information regarding the concerns of the Right2Know campaign in relation to the Bill and sign up to the campaign.