The IFP endorses the view point in the National Development Plan (NDP) that the protection of whistle blowers is a key to a ‘strong and resilient anti-corruption system’ and its criticism that the protection accorded the whistle-blowers in the Protected Disclosures Act (No: 26 of 2000) is inadequate.
This view reiterated the observation by Parliament soon after the passing of the Act which prompted it to request the South African Law Reform Commission (SALRC) to investigate certain aspects of the Act. On its investigation, the SALRC focussed on the following:
- Extending the ambit of the Act beyond the traditional employer /employee relationship.
- Creating a new remedy for an employee who has been victimised by an employer in contravention of the Act and
- Granting an employee, who makes a protected disclosure, immunity from criminal and civil liability.
All these have found their way into this Bill which grants the provider of protected disclosure immunity from criminal and civil liability in certain circumstances and criminalises intentional false disclosure.
There are concerns that make it an offence to intentionally disclose false information may discourage whistle -blowing. However, it must be borne in mind that a human being is not infallible and is prone to malicious motives making it easy for him/her to render false information to satisfy his/her evil intentions.
After all a whistle-blower is not much different from a referee in sport. It is common cause that many sportsmen/women occasionally fall victims of deviant referees who penalise them well knowing that they are innocent. This deviant human judgment often emanates from bias, jealousy, vindictiveness, or any other malicious motive. The innocent victim of such referees deserves to be protected to maintain the balance. And the errant whistle-blower should not enjoy any protection under the law.
In actual fact, there is a number of countries which provide in their protected disclosure legislation, clauses which make it an offence to knowingly render false information. This should be more desirable in South Africa where our society is still prone to taking the law into their own hands and where many are inclined towards racial hatred and vengeance. A remedy against the prejudice inflicted by such people is imperative.
The IFP supports the Bill.
I thank you!