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.