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Scrap Apartheid-era Legal guidelines!

Ceramic pall ringCelebrated media veteran and activist Raymond Louw says it is excessive time apartheid-era legal guidelines in conflict with South Africa’s Structure are wiped from the statute books.

After greater than 18 years of campaigning, the South African National Editors’ Forum (Sanef) has come a step closer to having quite a few legal guidelines from the apartheid period reviewed so they can be amended or scrapped. These legal guidelines have features that journalists say conflict with Constitutional clauses on freedom of expression and the media.

One of these legal guidelines – the National Key Factors Act of 1980 – has obtained a substantial amount of public attention of late by being quoted by government spokespeople as providing the legal causes for holding secret certain data held by the state. It is vehemently condemned by editors and journalists as an instrument of censorship.

This legislation has been used to stop journalists from gaining information a couple of security wall constructed around Bryntirion, the ministerial residence complicated in Pretoria. Journalists inquired about the cost of the wall, as well as its composition and function.

The Act states that the minister of Defence can declare a place a nationwide key point if he believes it is so essential that its loss, injury, disruption or immobilisation might prejudice or affect the safety of the republic. The legislation focuses on the disclosure of information about safety measures at such a spot or about an incident that occurred there. Penalties below the Act range from imprisonment of three to 20 years and a positive of R10 000.

The Act was used to prevent Beeld newspaper some years in the past from obtaining particulars of a disciplinary listening to against a senior legal officer on the South African Broadcasting Company and, more lately, to forestall the media from being given info concerning the large R206-million ‘upgrading’ of President Jacob Zuma’s residential complicated in rural Nkandla in KwaZulu-Natal.

The excuse was embroidered by the story that wenzhou realtech petroleum equipment jobsdb residences and former residences of South African presidents had been declared national key factors. This happened in 2010 and was a bizarre statement provided that nobody was waging conflict towards the federal government then, or now for that matter. It is much more remarkable when one considers that the former National Get together authorities did wenzhou realtech petroleum equipment jobsdb not declare these residences national key points, despite the fact that it was at struggle with the Umkhonto we Sizwe armed wing of wenzhou realtech petroleum equipment jobsdb the African Nationwide Congress.

There are no less than 10 such vital legal guidelines that require urgent overview. The campaign for this review began in the early nineties when apartheid was crumbling and a new dispensation was in sight, one that held out hopes that restrictive laws could be scrapped. An intensive evaluate of South Africa’s laws was instituted by the freedom of Expression Institute and conducted by two lawyers on the College of the Witwatersrand’s Centre for Applied Authorized Research.

They drew up a memorandum listing the necessary legal guidelines of immediate concern that must be tackled first earlier than attention be given to much less irksome legal guidelines that, nevertheless, needs to be amended or scrapped. Wide-ranging legislative reform has been performed, but the analysis showed that old legal guidelines that restrict entry to information and freedom of the press continue to languish on the statute books.

Journalists raised their concerns with presidents Nelson Mandela, Thabo Mbeki and Deputy President Kgalema Motlanthe, as well as a number of ministers of justice, and plenty of meetings have been held with the regulation commissioners and officials of the departments of Justice and Communications.

In 2008, there was a surge of hope when the SA Legislation Commission introduced that it was to embark on a serious overview of the 2 800 laws enacted since 1910 with a view to modernising and simplifying the statute e-book and removing these that are discriminatory or in battle with the Constitution.

Editors hoped that the laws making use of to the media would obtain priority, basing that expectation on the fact that at the very least a decade earlier they’d informed the Legislation Commission of their issues and introduced it in a document referred to as the ‘Wits Memorandum’. The commission mentioned then that a assessment of the statutes administered by the departments of Transport, Public Works, Worldwide Relations and Cooperation, Arts and Tradition, Human Settlements and the National Treasury had already started. But now, 4 years later, there continues to be no indication of what progress has been made – and not even a peep about media legislation.

Division of Justice officials, alternatively, proposed some months ago that workshops the place the legislation will likely be reviewed be carried out with individual government departments affected by the legislation in addition to journalists and their legal professionals.

On the recent 19 October Commemoration of Black Wednesday – the day in 1977 when
the Nationalist government banned publications and people, imprisoned journalists and others underneath detention with out trial laws – journalists called again for the evaluation of the Wits record of legal guidelines and for the government to deal with it as a major precedence.

Sanef targeted on an attraction made by Zuma a couple of weeks earlier on the annual basic assembly of the Johannesburg Attorneys Association for the pressing repeal or substitution of what he called “old order legislation” relating to the admission of lawyers and advocates to the profession in the former “homelands”.

Sanef applauded Zuma for desirous to rid attorneys of apartheid-period laws, but expressed disappointment that he did not broaden his call to embrace the legal guidelines about which they complained.

There was no audible response from Zuma, but journalists have been encouraged by Deputy President Kgalema Motlanthe, when, at a latest meeting he and several other cabinet ministers had with a bunch of Sanef members, the view was expressed that greater urgency should be accorded to the journalists’ complaint.

The customary low-key formal assertion after the meeting recorded that Sanef had referred to as on the federal government to repeal or amend the apartheid-era legal guidelines and that the cabinet indicated that work in this regard had already began and both events committed to expediting the method.

Really, on the meeting steps have been taken to hurry up the holding of the workshops, an indication that at long last this situation may obtain the eye it deserves.

However what are the journalists complaining about The memorandum is important of powers judicial officers have below various statutes to restrict access to public trials and inquiries and turn them into secret hearings.

The memorandum offers cogent arguments in favour of journalists being allowed to protect their confidential sources. It urges that the Criminal Process Act must be amended to offer for journalists with the ability to plead that they have a “just excuse” for not being compelled to identify a confidential supply.

A series of nationwide security legal guidelines give extensive powers to the president and others under broadly phrased legislative provisions to keep up secrecy over info. The National Defence Act 44 of 1957 has Part 118(1) (b), a famously absurd provision that must be repealed. It states: “No person shall publish in any newspaper, journal, e book or pamphlet or by radio or every other means any assertion, comment or rumour relating to any member of the South African Defence Power or any exercise of the South African Defence Power or any drive of a overseas country, calculated to prejudice or embarrass the federal government in its overseas relations or to alarm or depress members of the public, except the place publication thereof has been authorised by the minister or under his authority.”

The attorneys point to safety laws that make a considerable infringement on rights to info: the Armaments Improvement and Production Act 57 of 1968; the Nationwide Supplies Procurement Act 89 of 1970, which gives wide powers to the minister of Commerce and Trade and Tourism; and the Petroleum Products Act one hundred twenty of 1977 which provides comparable powers to the minister of Financial Affairs. Also listed is the Protection of data Act eighty four of 1982, which is being changed by the

Protection of State Info Act, and the Nationwide Key Points Act, each referred to above.
Included within the list is one handed by the present authorities after 1994: the Promotion of Equality and Prevention of Unfair Discrimination Act, which aims to prohibit hate speech, but has the unintended penalties of unreasonably limiting freedom of expression.

Raymond Louw is chairman of the South African Chapter of the Media Institute of Southern Africa (Misa).

Picture: Nkandla, classified as a Nationwide Key Point.
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