Although former President Nelson Mandela did not condemn the legislation his foundation said it was concerned about its implications.
News24 said the vote was 259 yes, 41 no ballots asnd 32 abstentions. "In its current form, the bill represents an attack on principles of open democracy that are deeply embedded in our constitution and our national life," the South African National Editors' Forum told allAfrica.com.
South African unions also have opposed the bill. There may be amendments before the final version is passed. With the African National Congress controlling two-thirds of the parliament there is no doubt they can push it through if they wish.
The bill was introduced after several years of reported corruption and President Jacob Zuma's spokesman, Mac Maharaj, was accused if receiving kickbacks from a French arms manufacturer, News24 reported. Maharaj is suiing several journals.
Under apartheid there were strict rules limiting press, such as barring banned people from meeting with reporters or being quoted. Violent methods were employed against some anti-apartheid dissidents.
However, under apartheid a scandal erupted and cost some high-ranking officials their jobs for using government money to try to secretly spread pro-regime propaganda. A Johannesburg newspaper, the Rand Daily Mail, was leaked the information and reported it. It was later driven out of business.
Under white-minority rule newspapers were a leading supporter of majority rule.
There have been widespread claims of ANC officials manipulating government contracts to enrich themselves. Journalists, of both races, again have been leading the calls for reforms.
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