On World Press Freedom Day, the highly acclaimed writer, and Nobel Prize winner for literature, Nadine Gordimer, called for the Protection of Information Bill to be “rejected in its entirety.” She launched the scathing rebuttal in an article entitled, “South Africa: The New Threat to Freedom”, on the New York Review of Books website.
The 88-year-old South African writer, political activist and recipient of the 1991 Nobel Prize in Literature, has joined the likes of other highly acclaimed anti-apartheid activists, including David Goldblatt in warning that the bill is a new threat to freedom in South Africa.
She opens her account with the following:
The regime of racism in South Africa was maintained not only by brutality – guns, violence, restrictive laws. It was upheld by elaborately extensive silencing of freedom of expression.
Gordimer says that the bill should be “rejected in its entirety,” and called for an extension to give more time for lawmakers to consider changes to the bill.
The bill is currently scheduled to be finalised and passed on May 17 in the National Council of Provinces.
In the new South Africa that was reborn in the early 1990s, with its freedom hard-won from apartheid, we now have the imminent threat of updated versions of the suppression of freedom of expression that gagged us under apartheid. The right to know must continue to accompany the right to vote that black, white, and any other color of our South African population could all experience for the first time in 1994. But since 2010 there have been two parliamentary bills introduced that seek to deny that right: the Protection of State Information Bill and the Media Tribunal.
Her major criticisms of the bill include:
She also took the opportunity to harshly criticise the ridiculous prison sentences offenders could face.
You may also want to read Khaya Dlanga’s inaugural column he wrote for the Mail & Guardian today. It’s entitled, “In the Constitution we trust”, but if you don’t, remember the following wise words from Khaya:
The mistake of the ANC government is that it assumes the courts have an agenda against it, whereas the court’s only agenda is to protect and preserve the Constitution.
The Constitution is not meant to be a convenience for the government – it is a convenience to and for the people.
The courts are not hellbent on embarrassing the ruling party.
We must forever ensure that the Constitution is forever out of reach of any government.
You can read Gordimer’s full article HERE.
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