|Pic from TimesLive|
In 2009 the Telegraph newspaper, using investigative journalism, uncovered a huge MP's expenses scandal. The results saw MPs resigning, being investigated, made to pay back money and in at least one case, imprisoned.
Now let's imagine that instead of having the Freedom of Information Act which we have here in the UK, we have a brand new bill that has just been passed by South African MPs today - the The Protection of State Information Bill. Under this bill, anyone possessing classified government documents can get up to 25 years in jail, with no defence of 'acting in the public interest'. 259 MPs voted in favour of the bill. Only 32 against. As one commentator said: 'All those in favour of corruption:259. All those against:32'
Had we had this bill in the UK during the expenses scandal, the journalists uncovering the story would have been facing 25 year sentences instead of receiving journalism awards.
South Africa is the gateway to Africa, the country which, post apartheid, was meant to be a shining example to the rest of the continent on how to thrive. Yet with this single piece of legislation, the country is returning to the dark days of apartheid whereby it was illegal to speak out against the government.
Wake up world. Wake up journalists. Take note. This is has severe implications for press freedom. Shouldn't more people outside of SA know about it? As far as I can see, so far just the BBC have reported on this.
Yes America might be anticipating Black Friday this week (the day after Thanksgiving when Americans begin their Christmas shopping in earnest). But personally, I think a few column inches could be given to South Africa's Black Tuesday instead.
PS - back to light-hearted flippancy shortly.