Journal of
Media and Communication Studies

  • Abbreviation: J. Media Commun. Stud.
  • Language: English
  • ISSN: 2141-2545
  • DOI: 10.5897/JMCS
  • Start Year: 2009
  • Published Articles: 216

Article in Press

'Sanitized, made lie supine and left fanged'. The final version of the 2010 Protection of Information Bill / Secrecy Bill and its threats to freedom of expression in South Africa


  •  Received: 03 April 2016
  •  Accepted: 24 March 2017
The African National Congress (ANC) at the helm of the current South African government may have succeeded towards the end of 2013 in using its majority voting clout inside the country’s national parliament to forcibly push through the passing of the controversial and now infamous 2010 Protection of Information Bill / Secrecy Bill, and thereafter declared it tame enough, ready to be signed and enacted into law by the country’s current President. However, the reality of the Bill’s constitutionally flawed and visibly draconian state as it now waits to be enacted into law remains evident in its final version. This article undertakes a critical discussion on the Secrecy Bill’s final version in order demonstrate how its architects, the state’s team of securocrats and legal advisers should be seen to have both intransigently and consistently resisted to genuinely address many of the substantive issues that have been raised as concerns against it by its opponents and critics since 2010, thus leaving it in a state that continues to pose a variety of potential threats to the democratic civil liberty of freedom of expression in South Africa if enacted into law. Against the background provided above, the article concludes by re-directing attention to the incessantly-lingering reality or presence in the form of the country’s current constitution which it argues could or should by now be considered to have turned out to be a ‘colossal elephant’ in the ANC-led government’s own room. The hurdle presented by the constitution through various forms of safeguard mechanisms that are embedded in it are considered in the article to be almost certain to prove to be a tall order for the government to by-pass if it were to hope to arbitrarily enact any piece of legislation, including the Secrecy Bill, in the country during the era of constitutional democracy. Accordingly, a further conclusion is posited to the effect that unless the ANC-led government is able to find some sleek alternative way(s), if this is feasible, to get around the three aspects highlighted in the conclusion of this article and through which the above mentioned constitutional hurdle is considered to present itself, the challenge of enacting the Bill into law without further sparking off the fierce opposition and resistance that have been witnessed in that regard since 2010 is almost certain to remain an intractable problem to it for quite some time in the foreseeable future.

Keywords: Secrecy Bill, Adhoc Committee on the Secrecy Bill; classified state information; civil liberties; freedom of expression; threats to freedom of expression, constitution-flouting, state securocrats, ANC-led government, sufficientl