Monday, September 19, 2011

Disappointing Turnout in Joburg's Anti Secrecy Vigil

When one listens to talk radio in Johannesburg they would believe this is a city of activists who would take action against what is right and fight the injustices of the leaders of the day. This is because Jo’burgers complain a lot on radio stations and often call in to criticise those they see not to deliver on their promises and often it’s government that is on the receiving end of their harsh words. But as the few that attended the ‘Right to Know’ organised fight against the Protection of Information Bill that is not the case.

Small amounts of people ascended on Constitution Hill, holding candles and sharing their reasons for opposing what is being called the Secrecy Bill by some. Talk show hosts who would ask people to sign petitions and become a part of this fight against ANC plan to hide things were also not present at the event. Instead it was just a few journalists, many of whom came from the print media.

Members of the public and civil society also shared stories about how they think service delivery would slow down as the media wouldn’t be able to report on how government funds are spent. Some who said they were from Soweto said delivery is slow where they are from and the bill would protect leaders who don’t fulfil promises.

One member of the public told the crowd that she believes the Protection of Information Bill may lead to people going missing without a trace and it would be difficult for anyone – including journalists to get access to any information on them. She said that would result in many nights of vigils similar to that of Monday night, but the difference this time is that the vigils will be for missing people and not against plan to hide information from the public.

There are those who say the ANC proposed bill will take South Africa back to the days similar to apartheid when people were expected to accept the status quo and ask no questions.

While those at the vigil complain about apartheid it is also my view that oppressive systems are not defeated if people sit in their homes and choose not to go out in their numbers to voice their opinions with many others in order to fight injustices. Jo’burgers should probably stop calling radio stations if their actions do not support what they say.

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