Promotion of Access to Information Act, 2000

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Promotion of Access to Information Act, 2000
Houses of Parliament (Cape Town).jpg
Act to give effect to the constitutional right of access to any information held by the State and any information that is held by another person and that is required for the exercise or protection of any rights; and to provide for matters connected therewith.
Citation Act No. 2 of 2000
Territorial extent Republic of South Africa
Enacted by Parliament of South Africa
Date assented to 2 February 2000
Date commenced 9 March 2001
Keywords
Freedom of information
Status: In force

The Promotion of Access to Information Act, 2000 (or PAIA; Act No. 2 of 2000) is a freedom of information law in South Africa. It allows access to any information held by the State, and any information held by private bodies that is required for the exercise and protection of any rights. The Act is enforced by the South African Human Rights Commission (SAHRC).

Role of Information Officers[edit]

In terms of PAIA, information officers (IOs) have a critical role of ensuring the implementation of the Act, by:

  • Receiving and responding to PAIA requests
  • Compiling and submitting section 14 manuals to the Commission
  • Compiling and submitting section 15 notices to the Minister of Justice
  • Compiling and submitting section 32 reports to the Commission.no

Compliance[edit]

Every private body must publish a simple manual in line with section 51 of the Act. For most faith-based organisations, the deadline for publishing a manual is now 31 December 2011. Unlisted companies in some sectors that have 50 or more employees or turnover greater than certain amounts must submit a manual by 31 December 2005. See Government Gazette No. 27988 (31 August 2005) for more details.

Much of the South African public and private sectors have yet to comply with this legislation.

One of the critical challenges of the implementation of the Act has been the non-compliance of public bodies with the requirements of this Act.[1]

Reasons for Non-Compliance[edit]

In terms of public bodies, various concerns have been cited as reasons for non-compliance, such as:

  • Lack of awareness by public bodies about their duties in terms of the Act;
  • Public bodies not taking their obligations in terms of PAIA seriously;
  • Poor information management systems (no records management policies and file plans) in public bodies;
  • Failure to delegate information officers’ powers within the public bodies; and
  • Inability to identify the Unit or Division to be responsible for administering PAIA

Thus, in light of these challenges, which are major factors hampering proper implementation of a successful access to information regime in South Africa, that a cross-sectoral information officers forum was established on 20 September 2006.

The Information Officers Forum[edit]

Objectives[edit]

The objectives of the forum are as follows:

  • To share information on the implementation issues and difficulties on PAIA;
  • To help raise awareness of the Act in the public bodies; · To advice the Commission on areas that require its “intervention”;
  • To advice I/Os & other sectors on the latest developments on PAIA; and
  • To help with capacity building issues in public bodies How to achieve those objectives
  • Calling all (D) I/Os to a yearly meeting / indaba to share experiences on implementing the Act;
  • Creating a virtual forum (on the Commission’s website) that can be used for continuous discussion of difficulties of the Act;
  • Distribute questionnaires on the difficulties they experience and how they can be resolved; and
  • Consulting with public bodies on best practice & implementation/processes under PAIA;

Other Resources[edit]

In response to the issue of non-compliance, measures have been taken in the private sector to assist private bodies. Representatives of private bodies have access to a web-based solution that compiles a fully compliant manual on their behalf in order to avoid confusion regarding the format and content. One such resource is PaiaBuilder. Google searches may reveal comparative services.

References[edit]

  1. ^ www.sahrc.org