#BlackTuesday In Protest Against the Protection of Information Bill

So, what exactly is Black Tuesday? Well, its basically a call from the National Press Club of South Africa for South Africans to wear black on Tuesday the 22nd of November 2011. This is a call to all South Africans to show their protest against the proposed Protection of Information Bill which will to vote in the South African Parliament on the same. The term ‘Black Tuesday’ echoes in reference to Black Wednesday, a name originally given to the day the apartheid government banned The World and Weekend World on the 19th of October 1977. On this day a number of activists were arrested and 20 anti-apartheid groups were also banned.

If the Protection of Information Bill is passed, state information may be classified “in the interest of national security” and anyone publishing such information, including journalists and whistle-blowers, could face a 25-year jail sentence. This could spell the end of Press Freedom in South Africa in some analyst’s and my own opinion.  Numerous objectors have repeated their call on the ANC to “do the right thing” and introduce a public interest clause, to help protect civil society from the abuse of power. A series of demonstrations will take place across the country with journalists and members of the public set to don black to mourn the crackdown on press freedom. Read more about this in this Mail & Guardian article and this Daily Maverick Article.

In my opinion, it could mean the beginning of the end of democracy in South Africa if this Protection of Information Bill (also referred to as the Secrecy Bill) is passed. Many South Africans fought long and hard for press freedom in this country. The media should be allowed to state their opinion, even if government or ordinary South Africans don’t agree with what is being reported. That is the way it should be in a democracy. So, if you don’t agree with this proposed bill, wear black this Tuesday to show your disgust with this proposed bill. The #BlackTuesday hashtag is already trending on Twitter, so be on the lookout for Tweets featuring this hashtag or check out the National Press Club Facebook fan page for updates.

What are your thoughts about this proposed bill? Please comment on this post and let the readers of Running Wolf’s Rant know. Feedback is appreciated and welcome here.


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Henno Kruger
Blogger, Desktop Activist, Twitter / Facebook Addict, Music Festival Addict, Avid lover of South African music, Founder and owner of Running Wolf's Rant and co-founder of SA Music Zone

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  • Lizaan

    What also worries me about this bill that they are trying to pass is that no one really thought about thousands in the media industry who would probably end up losing their jobs. Our so called president and government wants to ‘combat’ unemployment, yet by passing this they would actually cause even more. So now I ask you, how the hell do they think that this is morally right?

  • Louisa

    @Lizaan. We journalists will still have our jobs- there are more than enough current affairs and goodwill stories etc to fill our pages. We will however not have the right to do our job properly or practice what we trained to do. Our responsibilty as journalists is to inform and educate. We are the watchdogs of society, tasked with holding government accountable. What scares me is that not enough South Africans even know what the bill is about. In choosing ignorance (because many people do choose to live under a rock) they have chosen to give their rights away.

    • Lizaan

      But won’t the bill cause sales to decrease? And how about the uncertainty of what the government would censor, won’t many journalist fear prosecution? Fear can do strange things to people.

  • Louisa

    Yes, there is fear. But not apocolyptic. Sales are already decreasing due to online media. People who buy print media religiously will still continue to do that. For example: Do people buy “YOU” because of it’s hard news content?. In terms of newspapers- the saying goes: “If it bleeds it leads.” There will still be plenty of crime and hard news stories to keep readers “entertained”, we will just not be able to expose corruption etc.

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