Democracy, if you value it, there are certain things which much be valued along with it. One of those things is the freedom of information – sometimes rendered as “freedom of speech”. I would suggest that “information” is a much more comprehensive and effective way of rendering this. Democracy is, at its core, about the ability of a people to govern themselves. They may do it directly, or via representatives, but the fundamental point is that a people governs itself. The ability to govern, however, requires the ability to have access to information. To be able to deliberate about said information. And finally, to express their will based on that information. Yes, I realize that this is idealized, but bear with me here, when a government pretends that it has secrets which trump the right of the people to access information – and hence govern themselves – then its only a matter of time before no information is free from some kind of shackle.This is the logic being pursued by the government of South Africa. Currently the RSA is drafting legislation that will ensnare and shackle those who attempt to make public the sins of the nation. From The Guardian:
The protection of state information bill – dubbed the “secrecy bill” – envisages draconian penalties of up to 25 years in prison for whistleblowers and journalists who possess, leak or publish state secrets. It has been described as the first piece of legislation since the end of apartheid in 1994 to undermine South Africa’s democracy.