House Chairperson, let me start by thanking the committee for doing superior work. Perhaps I should start by responding to hon Mazibuko, the Leader of the Opposition, and assist her about her false allegations.
Firstly, she says the referral did not deal with substantive issues in the Bill. For the last three years, hon Mazibuko, we, as this Parliament, have been dealing with substantive issues of the Bill. We have made considerable progress in improving the Bill. As the ANC and the Ministry, we have always said that we will welcome all amendments which will improve the Bill in terms of its effectiveness and its constitutionality.
In a second allegation she said the referral was just looking at technical errors. Let me help her by reading the letter from the President. It says:
I have given consideration to the Bill in its entirety and the various opinions ...
Not one opinion -
... and commentaries regarding, inter alia, the constitutionality and tagging of the Bill.
Therefore, he did not just consider one view or referral. I proceed:
After consideration of the Bill and having applied my mind thereto, I am of the view that the Bill as it stands does not pass constitutional muster.
That is the letter from the President.
The third false allegation is of the referral being vague. The referral was not vague at all. It was self-explanatory. Let me read it to you. [Interjections.] Yes, I'll read it.
In terms of section 79(1) of the Constitution, I hereby refer the attached Bill to the National Assembly for consideration insofar as sections of the Bill, in particular ...
[Interjections.] Yes, let me finish -
... sections 42 and 45, lack meaning and coherence, consequently are irrational and accordingly are unconstitutional.
Hon Mazibuko, what was the basic problem? The basic problem was the capacity to correct technical mistakes. Some of them were very material, such as when you intend to construct a sentence and you are not actually constructing a sentence.
One of those areas was an area about which Parliament had expressed itself to say people who falsely classify documents for the wrong reason, reasons other than this law, must be punished. Now, if the law, which we are passing as Parliament, does not create an offence, it is material, because Parliament felt very strongly about it.
The fourth allegation is the possession of classified information which we have the responsibility to take back. That's material. That is why the President said those clauses specifically needed to be addressed. Because of what I have said earlier about the problem of the capacity to deal with technical errors, the members are saying that the President must have said on page one that there was a technical error and on page two there was another. That is what the Leader of the Opposition is trying to say.
Hon Ambrosini, let me thank you for your views, even if they are incorrect. Despite the attack from the members of the opposition, you've got views. But today you are saying there is no need for this Bill. That is basically your argument. Let me remind you what made us bring this Bill here. For the first time in this country, we are introducing a declassification system of classified information, which was never there, so that people, after a reasonable time, can have access to this information in order to know what happened in the past and so that those who want to conduct research can do so.
We are saying we are protecting valuable information that is not classified. The Leader of the Opposition says it is not material, but it matters to a lot of people. Those who get their identification documents falsely changed are not classified, but that is in the hands of the state. The Bill tells us that we must protect that information so that it should not be interfered with. It means something to those who have companies that are changed because of the database of our President. Therefore, as the ANC, we really support this Bill. [Time expired.] [Applause.]