“A nation that is afraid to let its people judge the truth and falsehood in an open market is a nation that is afraid of its people.” John F. Kennedy
There are times when silence is a virtue.
Like when your wife asks if her bum looks big in this.
There are times when secrets are best kept.
Like if you are a fan of Justin Bieber.
This is not one of those times.
Today is Black Tuesday.
Weirdly enough that was also the name of the day that marked the start of the Great Depression. Regardless, I look like a large dissatisfied black bat of gloom today.
However, this Tuesday is so named because on the 19th October 1977, the Apartheid government banned a number of publications, people and organisations involved with black consciousness. It became known as Black Wednesday.
Today the South African parliament will vote on the Protection of State Information Bill or as it more popularly known, the Secrecy Bill. If passed it will effectively muzzle the media and hobble any attempt to expose the cancer of fraud, embezzlement and corruption that is at the heart of our government.
No government should ever be in control of the media, although they all try because for obvious reasons it is a very powerful tool to placate the masses. Desmond Tutu summed it up very well by calling it an insult to all South Africans.
History repeats itself. I just was not expecting it to repeat itself so soon. During the time Nelson Mandela was in prison, not a single photograph of him existed in South Africa. The first time most of us saw him, was the day he walked out of prison. His face was regarded as a threat to state security.
What state secrets do we have that are so vital to security that we need to hide them? In all honesty if we were in a time of war, perhaps this bill might have legs to stand on, but it is built on decidedly shaky ground right now.
The ANC published this peculiar diatribe on their website today:
Apparently, the bill is intended to crack down those pesky international spies that plague us.
What on earth are they spying on?
Our total ineptitude?
“The foreign spies continue to steal our sensitive information in order to advantage their nations at the expense of advancement of South Africa and her people. However, you won’t find foreign spies openly marching in the streets of Cape Town complaining that we are removing their easy access to our sensitive information.”
I quite like the idea of spies marching down the road actually – a sort of James Bond meets Austin Powers convention.
I hasten to suggest we have more of a problem from Nigerian drug lords gunning down PTA moms in the street, but that might get me sent to jail for some 25 years.
If it were really intended to protect terribly important state secrets, it might have some credibility. But it isn’t.
It’s designed to protect corrupt little backstabbers so they can carry on lying to the voting population who they view in much the same way as I view the ruling party – as a bunch of total idiots.
Shouldn’t politicians, municipalities, tenderpreneurs and so on be held accountable?
After all, it is my money they are spending on their big BMWs and mansions in Saxonwold. If some bint takes her family and friends to buy blood diamonds in Angola and I have to foot the bill for her chartered jet, do I not have the right to be a little miffed?
Of course back in the day they only had to worry about carrier pigeons, TV, radio and print journalists. These days you’ve got social networking, blogs, the Internet and virtual smoke signals.
No doubt the next step will be following our new BFFs the Chinese into an Internet crackdown.
After that we’ll probably start burning books.
Here’s what Nelson Mandela had to say on the topic in 1994:
“Criticism can only help us to grow, by calling attention of those of our actions and omissions, which do not measure up to our people’s expectations and the democratic values to which we subscribe.”