Saturday, April 27, 2013

NO Freedom Day for me as a journalist in South Africa as The Secrecy Bill is set to become law and curtail my right to bring you the news.

It's called Freedom Day in South Africa today - but I as a journalist and editor trying to cover news, and real news, and to bring you the truth as I see it, the facts, and the stories which matter and influence the industry I write about, don't have the same freedom to report freely anymore.

The draconian ANC led government in South Africa ironically passed the Secrecy Bill two days ago in Freedom Day week. The Protection of State Information Bill forced through the National Assembly well on its way now to become law, curtails my rights as a writer and as a journalist to bring you as a citizen of South Africa all the information that I think might matter.

The ANC is returning South Africa - and forcing me as a journalist who believes in open information and the sharing of ideas and news and freedom of speech - to the National Party and Apartheid era law and rules, fast turning back the clock to a culture of secrecy, disinformation and encroaching restrictions on press freedom.

People who speak out like whistleblowers, and I as a journalist, face 25 YEARS IN JAIL with this terrible ANC legislation which is set to curtail press freedom in South Africa.

Disclosing what might be unilaterally deemed "classified information" (imagine Nkandla or Marikana is suddenly "classified") and writing anything about it ... gets you 5 YEARS IN JAIL as a journalist or whistleblower.

Just one example: The SABC as South Africa's public broadcaster is in turmoil. It's also what is called a "key access point". It foreseeable that I as a journalist as indeed all press could be prevented from reporting certain things about the SABC. I wouldn't even be able to tell you that there is something which I can tell you.

You will just be blissfully unaware and think everything is fine, while it's actually not.

The shameful curtailing of media and press freedom in South Africa isn't an abstract idea. It's been turned into a reality, with civil society - you as the reader and the listener and the viewer - who won't even know what people like me perhaps know, but won't be allowed to tell you.

What a national scandal. There is no true Freedom Day until the press in a country is truly free to report what it wants to report. South Africa's independent press is under attack. It's Freedom, and by implication YOUR FREEDOM is under attack.

Don't say you didn't know.