Chairperson, what has been said here by the opposition indicates that they tried to reopen the Bill for futher discussion, and they lost. It was very clear that the President wanted us to deal with two clauses, which is exactly what we did.
I have never in my life heard of a country that is transparent, even with regard to secrets that are necessary for its survival. The Bill has been called names. We were here and we all listened. People couldn't get themselves to call the Bill by its real name. It is called the Information Bill. Some prefer to call it the Secrecy Bill, this being only to hoodwink our people into thinking that there is something secretive about the Bill.
The real aim of the Bill is to protect sensitive state information and no one in the opposition said exactly that. It is to provide protection of certain valuable state information against alteration, loss or unlawful disclosure, and to regulate the manner in which state information may be protected. I've never heard any of them saying "valuable state information". That is the name of the Bill. Why don't they say it?
In addition to the broad outlines provided above, the Bill aims to strike a balance between the protection of state information and access to information. The Bill, for example, states that "access to state information is a basic human right". The free flow of state information promotes openness, responsiveness, informed debate, accountability and good governance. This is what the ANC is saying. No one in the opposition is saying that. The key words in the whole Bill are "state information", or may I say "sensitive state information". [Applause.] It is therefore very surprising that some people in this House are vehemently against this very reasonable Bill.
As I said earlier, in which country would sensitive information be given to the whole world in the name of openness? If we as a country had invented the most sophisticated missile, are we supposed to advertise it to the whole world, including our enemies? This wouldn't be openness, accountability or good governance, but would be stupidity of the worst order. [Applause.] What do these people, who are in this House, want to do with such information? Do they perhaps want to peddle it? All these laws, regulations and policies were established by the ANC in order to make South Africa a better place to live in for all of us and not for a certain section of the population which, anyway, was previously spoilt. Did this happen before 1994?
HON MEMBERS: No!