Youth must speak out against secrecy Bill

WHAT has happened to the time when South Africa’s constitution was the envy of the world, with fundamental rights far in advance of most countries and many freedoms that are enjoyed in few other places? In recent years the very government that helped draw up this constitution has discovered that freedoms are not compatible with corruption and mismanagement.

Failures of government, such as education, local government, law and order – all of these are being held up to scrutiny by a free and vigorous press, and a questioning academia. Instead of welcoming the open debate and promising to end corruption, the government is instead intent on killing the messenger.

Education and freedom of access to information are part and parcel of the same thing, yet teachers and principals on the whole have not expressed their dismay at the “secrecy Bill”. It might only be aimed at protecting government corruption, but in reality it will also impact on our educational system.

As a young person, it worries me greatly that ANC MPs voted to proceed with the tabling of a Bill that is in direct contradiction to everything they claim to have fought for. It worries me even more when the president, who is supposed to be the moral compass of the nation, defends the tabling of this Bill.

This Bill will make it a crime to speak out against corruption and maladministration. The informant will be rendered as a criminal while the thief is protected by law.

Academic research will also be changed completely and could be criminalised.

It terrifies me that the youth of this country are so quiet. We, the youth, are going to inherit this country, and what do we stand to inherit if the current leaders have stolen our future?

 How can we learn independent thought at university if it is a crime to think independently?

The time for us to stand up is now. We are the class of 2011.

The class of 1976 played their part so that we could enjoy the freedoms enshrined in our constitution. It is now time for the class of 2011 to play our part as well.

Ntuthuko Dumakude, national deputy secretary-general, COPE Youth Movement (writing in his private capacity)

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