[Fwd: Black Tuesday 2]

The controversial Protection of Information Bill has been attracting
international attention, most of it unfavourable, as it heads towards
adoption in Parliament.

Newspapers in the US and Britain especially have written about the
so-called "secrecy bill", focusing on sharp criticism of it by people
such as Nobel Prize for Literature winner and ANC member Nadine

Britain's Daily Telegraph said Gordimer had warned that, through the
bill, the ANC was taking South Africa "back to the suppression of free
expression" of the apartheid era.

"Her intervention is hugely significant," the paper said. "Gordimer was
a close friend of Nelson Mandela (he read her novel Burger's Daughter in
jail in Robben Island and asked her to visit as soon as he came out) and
she helped lead the fight against apartheid in her native South Africa."

The Telegraph also quoted Gordimer as saying: "People have fought and
died to gain the opportunity for a better life, which is ruined and
dirtied by corruption. The corrupt practices and nepotism that they
allow themselves is exposed if we have freedom of expression."

The Voice of America said: "The measure would update apartheid-era
provisions, and punish those who publish classified information with up
to 25 years in jail.

"Critics say the proposed law is extreme, and have argued for a clause
that allows revealing state secrets in the public interest."

The Washington Post noted that Gordimer was one of many critics of the
bill, who also included "prominent ANC members... among them a former
state security minister (Ronnie Kasrils)".

Critics "within and outside the governing party" had warned the
legislation "would smother freedom of expression and make it harder to
fight corruption".

The Washington Post also noted the fears of activists that for South
Africa - "known for one of the continent's freest and most open
constitutions" - to pass such legislation - "could influence other
countries in the region".

When the bill was introduced last year, along with a proposal for a
media tribunal, the Wall Street Journal said the measures "could reshape
South Africa's media industry".

As the bill got closer to being put to the vote, the newspaper said the
"tensions over the media are part of a searching national debate over
the political course of a key African democracy".

It quoted Anton Harber, head of the Wits Journalism School, as warning
that other African countries looked up to South Africa and the bill was
a "bad example for the rest of the continent".

The Christian Science Monitor said the ANC was "close to dramatically
restricting the rights of citizens to monitor the actions of their
government officials".

It had earlier quoted Karin Karlekar, managing editor of the Freedom of
the Press report for Freedom House in New York, as saying: "We see this
as part of a broader trend in South Africa, and it's very worrying."

The Monitor said Freedom House had downgraded South Africa from "free"
to "partly free", in its Freedom of the Press rankings.

"Historically, South Africa was one of the top performers in the past 15
years, as a model for other African countries," Karlekar said. "In South
Africa, as in other countries, the media are one of the watchdogs of
society in support of good governance in institutions, and to take (it)
away... weakens democracy as a whole."

The Monitor also noted: "Curiously, some African countries - notably
Kenya and Nigeria - have moved in the opposite direction... enshrining
the freedom of information... Nigeria enacted a Freedom of Information

But it also quoted analyst Steven Friedman, director of the Democracy
and Governance programme at the University of Johannesburg, as saying
although the bill was "horrible", there was "no way this legislation is
going to shut down investigative journalism".

Friedman cited the clauses "that say you can't classify information in
order to cover up government incompetence, or to protect the government
from embarrassment".

US embassy spokeswoman Elizabeth Trudeau said: "The US supports the
freedom of the press, and the public's right to hold governments and
government officials accountable. We hope the government, civil society,
activists, NGOs and media continue a dialogue to seek common ground on
this critical issue."


[Fwd: Black Tuesday 1]

The catch phrases are difficult to ignore: "right to know", "no to
censorship", "freedom of the press", "don't gag the media". Though the
colour black might be quite trendy today and #BlackTuesday will be
trending on Twitter, it's important that we look a little deeper and not
be distracted by the fanfare - even as we all dress like waiters,
bouncers and Goths.

We the media often portray this as our battle and at times purport to be
the sole victim when the truth is that the only victim here is you, dear
citizen, the one who buys our newspapers, who visits our websites and
who tunes into our news bulletins.

You're the victim not because we won't be able to tell you who screwed
whom or who got tender-rich overnight. No, you're the victim because you
will be denied those everyday truths that make up the world we live in.
Simple snippets of information that form the basis of our reality will
be almost impossible to find. Our cash-strapped media houses don't have
the money to go to court to every time they need to gain information
under the current Act. We would have to contend with "information
officers" who are full of everything but information. They are an
oxymoron just waiting to happen.

Yes, information is the lifeblood of journalism. This is what we do, we
disseminate information in what we believe is, the public interest.
Sometimes we get it wrong. By passing the Protection of State
Information Bill today, government is not so much gagging the media as
it is blindfolding you, not from the sensational, but from the mundane
like Records of Decisions, environmental impact studies and task team
reports. A nation of blind followers is easier to control, easier to
influence - more subservient. When the only reality you know is the one
created for you by misinformation, lies and denials, what reason do you
have to challenge the status quo? The lack of a public interest clause
in the Bill means any whistle-blower faces certain jail, so who would
dare cross the line?

The people of Libya, Egypt and Tunisia were fed lies from the mouths of
corrupt politicians and dictators. They lived and breathed the fallacies
presented to them for decades by state-owned media houses. Only truth
broke that spell, and it wasn't the media who spurred it on. It was
ordinary citizens who simply decided to stop believing the lies from a
government that was running out of excuses. They found a common cause
and disseminated their own version of the truth through social media and
the foreign press; the same truth that Anton Hammerl and scores of other
journalists died pursuing.

We understand that there is information in the hands of government that
would genuinely affect national security but a government that denies
basic truths and openness is a government that is saying it is not
accountable to you and me as citizens. So how do we trust them? How do
we believe anything they say from now on? How do we know if they have
our interests at heart?

By now you're probably wondering what the big secret is. Well, there
isn't one. You clicked on this link out of curiosity or a need for
knowledge. It is a basic human function that has propelled our species
to greatness. The pursuit of knowledge has inspired us and helped us
become better at what we do - survive. The hunger for truth has brought
about democracy, toppled dictators, destroyed lives and saved millions
more. How dare you let anyone take that away from you?



[Fwd: Julius Malema goes into a gallery]

Julius Malema goes into a gallery.

He looks at the paintings, and then he turns to a lady standing next to
him and asks, "Did a white person actually paint all this shit?"

The lady turns around and responds, "No sir, that's a mirror".


[Fwd: Winnie in London]

While visiting the United Kingdom, Winnie Mandela was invited to a
cocktail party which was also to be attended by Margaret Thatcher.

When Winnie saw the ex-prime minister on the other side of the room she
barged past everyone, spilling the drinks of several invited guests on
the way.

Winnie elbowed her way to Maggie, stood brazenly in front of her and
declared, "I hear they call you the Iron Lady!"

"I have been referred to by that name, yes," replied Maggie, peering
down her nose at this impudent upstart. "And whom, may I enquire, do I
have the honour of addressing ?" asked Maggie icily.

"I am the iron lady of South Africa !" bragged Winnie, waving her fist
in the air.

"Oh, yes," replied Maggie dryly. "And for whom do you iron?"

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