Sometimes (ok, often) I think the world is going mad! The SA government is attempting to pass the Access to Information Bill (aka the secrecy bill, more info here ), which would result in undermining democracy in our country and hiding already extensive government corruption. The US government is trying to censor the internet (for an amazingly simple explanation check out The Oatmeal’s page here). Now the SA government wants to pass an amendment to the Weather Services Act of all things!
What is it with this need to scramble and criminalise transparency all of a sudden?
The bit that I understand to be ridiculous is that unless you get permission from the SA Weather Service, it will be a criminal offence to issue warnings about pollution (air pollution specifically it seems) related matters. If an independent body tests and monitors the air quality of a certain area and sees the need to notify affected parties regarding the potentially negative effects of certain unknown pollutants (or levels of known ones), it may be in contravention of this bill (if it’s passed) and be subjected to criminal charges. Simplistically, one could be contravening a law by exercising a constitutional right (the right to clean air).
Hopefully the good people at the Centre for Environmental Rights will help iron this silly mess out.
A good explanation on why this proposed amendment will be detrimental to environmental management can be found on the CER website here. You can read the proposed amendment to the bill here and the submissions made to Parliament by the CER here.