THE ANC yesterday agreed to drop a contested clause from the Protection of State Information Bill which critics said risked rendering the draft act unconstitutional.
Clause 1 (4) would have seen the bill overrule the progressive Promotion of Access to Information Act (PAIA) of 2000 if there were a conflict between the provisions of the two pieces of legislation.
This was one of the biggest remaining sticking points between political parties finalising the bill in an ad hoc committee of the National Council of Provinces.
Despite this concession, the ANC stood firm on two other disputed clauses in the bill.
It reiterated its refusal to include a public interest defence to give greater protection to whistle-blowers who published classified information.
Secondly, it would not raise the liability threshold for espionage by dropping the phrase "ought reasonably to have known" with regard to this crime, which carries a 25-year prison sentence. – Sapa