Issued by Daniela Ellerbeck on behalf of the FW de Klerk Foundation, on 24/04/2024


In a success story of the effects of public participation, Parliament’s first house, the National Assembly, listened to the people and made significant changes to the first version of the General Intelligence Laws Amendment Bill (‘GILAB 1.0’),” says Daniela Ellerbeck, the Constitutional Programmes Manager at the FW de Klerk Foundation.

Earlier this year GILAB 1.0 had resulted in massive public outcries when it was realised that it would allow the South African intelligence services carte blanche to decide who they wanted to subject to vetting investigations.

“A second version of the Bill (‘GILAB 2.0’) is now open for public comment to Parliament’s second house, the National Council of Provinces (‘NCOP’),” Ellerbeck told media. “GILAB 2.0 reflects the changes the Foundations requested Parliament make: Definitions are now precise and will prevent abuses, such as compulsory vetting of anyone that catches the services’ fancy.”

This massive improvement on a Bill – that, at first, wanted to allow the State to be able to subject any Tom, Dick and Harry it chose to a security competency test and vetting investigations by the Intelligence Services – shows the success of public participation in safeguarding our democracy,” states Ellerbeck. “It shows the importance of civil society organisations, such as the Foundation, using their legal expertise to insist that the State respect the Constitution and the rights and freedoms it should respect, protect, promote and fulfil.”

While there are technical improvements that can still be made to the Bill, it no longer poses an existential risk to South African’s constitutional rights or to our democracy,” states Ellerbeck.

The Bill is open for comment to the NCOP until 12 May 2024. Only once it has been passed by both houses will it go to the President for assent into law.