Promotion of Access to Information Act and its obligations for the Public Sector: Mandatory Compliance
9 March 2009
The South African Human Rights Commission (SAHRC) is the constitutional body charged with promoting, monitoring and educating human rights in democratic South Africa. It is also mandated in terms of the Promotion of Access to Information Act 2000 (PAIA) to perform specific responsibilities as the lead monitoring agency on the implementation of PAIA.
The public sector is constitutionally obliged to provide cheap and expeditious services to the South African public. One of the major ways in securing efficient and quality delivery is through the proper implementation and compliance with the provisions of PAIA.
PAIA entrenches values critical to a progressive constitutional democracy. To achieve these values, the public sector must ensure that implementation and compliance in terms of PAIA is accelerated.
The realisation of these initiatives will result in:
* quicker, better service delivery
* a more transparent and accountable government
* efficient records management
* advanced and informed public participation for a better South Africa.
Public and certain private bodies must submit reports on all requests submitted to them. These reports must be sent to the SAHRC annually.
Information officials are hereby notified to submit their section 32 reports to the commission's PAIA unit by no later than 30 April 2009.
The report must include the following statistics for the year 2008/09:
* the number of requests for access received
* the number of requests granted in full
* the number of requests granted in terms of section 46
* request statistics in terms of section 32 (d)
* request statistics in terms of section 32 (e)
* request statistics in terms of section 32 (f)
* request statistics in terms of section 32 (g)
* request statistics in terms of section 32 (h)
* other information – please include your recommendations/observations in this category.
To facilitate the processing of requests, public entities are also reminded of their obligations to develop and update manuals road mapping, categories of information automatically available to the public.
The commission also takes this opportunity to advise public entities to secure PAIA training for its personnel, free of charge through all its offices.
Deputy Information Officers who comply with reporting obligations, actively promote, educate and advance the objectives of PAIA can win the annual Golden Key Award for meritorious achievement from the SAHRC and the Open Democracy Advice Centre (ODAC). Nominations will be open in June 2009.
Visit the SAHRC website (http://www.sahrc.org.za) for PAIA information and updates.