Church to Zuma: Send Secrecy Bill to Concourt
Excerpt from our front-page story by CLAIRE MATHIESON this week:
President Jacob Zuma should use a presidential prerogative to send the Protection of State Information Bill to the Constitutional Court to review its constitutionality, according to the Catholic Church.
The overwhelming opposition from civil society to the Bill means that if the bill is passed in its current form, “it will be taken to the Constitutional Court”, said Mike Pothier of the Catholic Parliamentary Liaison Office.
The vast majority of constitutional experts, lawyers, academics, all predict at least some of the central aspects of the Bill will be found unconstitutional, he said, adding that the likes of Cosatu already had their lawyers ready to stand.
What this means is a serious degree of doubt about the constitutionality of the Bill. Fortunately section 79 of the Constitution allows for such a situation”if the president has doubts about a bill’s constitutionality, before he signs it into law he can refer it to the Constitutional Court for a decision,” Mr Pothier told The Southern Cross.
President Zuma should avoid the extreme expense, time and effort by sending it to court himself, Mr Pothier said. “This would be an important sign of good faith”that the government wants the best possible information law, and that it is prepared to subject its provisions to the judgment of the court before it becomes and Act.”