for the Journalists of Southern Africa
Stefaans Brummer writes in the Mail & Guardian:
Last year, while the Protection of State Information Bill was still stuck in the quagmire of the National Assembly’s ad-hoc committee charged with processing it, IFP MP Mario Oriani-Ambrosini remarked that a bunch of lawyers around a table would have found solutions in no time at all.
By then, MPs had slogged and fought for months over the simplest of changes, buffeted between party bosses, the state security ministry and the demands of civil society. Oriani-Ambrosini, a member of the committee and a lawyer by profession, was well placed to comment.
After a major concession by the ANC this week fell horrendously short not for lack of intent, but because of bad drafting, the IFP MP’s solution seemed just what the doctor had ordered. But that would not be democracy.
And while democracy is messy - very messy in this case - it is the same democracy that saw the Bill substantially amended for the better already. Had it not been for public pressure and head butting and epithet slinging over the course of the last two years, the original, deeply flawed - and, by the way, human-rights-lawyer-drafted - version of the Bill would have been law by now.
So, now that democracy has been identified both for its imperfection when it comes to the finer points of drafting, and for being our best hope to come to the rescue after all, let us examine some of the main snags our representatives have to overcome.