“Everyone has a right of access to any information held by the state and any information held by another person that is required for the exercise or protection of any rights.”
The Promotion of Access to Information Act, No. 2 of 2000 (PAIA) was enacted to give effect to the constitutional right of access to information. PAIA came into operation on 9 March 2001.
In terms of the Constitution and PAIA, all people in South Africa, including non-nationals, can request information from public and private bodies.
OBJECTIVES OF PAIA
- To promote transparency, accountability and effective governance of all public and private bodies
- To assist members of the public to effectively scrutinize and participate in decision making by public bodies
- To ensure that the state promotes a human rights culture and social justice
- To encourage openness
- To establish voluntary and mandatory mechanisms or procedures which give effect to the right of access to information in a speedy, inexpensive and effortless manner
- Mandate of the SAHRC in terms of PAIA
- Compliance for public bodies – section 32 and section 14 of PAIA
- Compliance for private bodies – section 51 of PAIA
In terms of PAIA, the Commission has a specific mandate to promote the right of access to information and to monitor compliance with PAIA. The Commission carries out its PAIA mandate as follows:
- Training of and assistance to Information Officers and Deputy Information Officers (public and private bodies)
- Receipt of section 32 reports and section 14 manuals from public bodies
- Receipt of section 51 manuals from private bodies
- Assistance to requesters, where reasonably possible
- Drafting publications
- Submissions on legislation, including PAIA
In order to comply with PAIA, public bodies must prepare and submit the following reports and manuals:
Submission of report in terms of Section 32 of PAIA
In terms of Section 32 of PAIA, ALL public bodies must submit a section 32 report to the Commission on an annual basis. The reporting period for the section 32 report is from 1 April to 31 March every year.
A copy of the reporting template and reporting guidelines can be found here.
- the name of the public body;
- the name of the deputy information officer and information officer; and
- the period for which the report is submitted
Section 32 reports must be submitted to the Commission by no later than the 30 April each year.
Only enquiries relating to section 32 of PAIA (NO submissions):
Tel: (011) 877 3608
Dr Fola Adeleke – email@example.com
Tshepang Sebulela – firstname.lastname@example.org
Section 32 reports must only be sent to the following email address: email@example.com
Submission of manual in terms of Section 14 of PAIA
Section 14 of PAIA prescribes that every public body must have an information manual. This manual serves as a roadmap about how to request information from the public body concerned. Section 14 of PAIA sets out what information must be contained in the manual. The manual must be translated into three official languages and submitted to the Commission annually.
Section 14 Manuals must only be sent to the following email address: firstname.lastname@example.org
Compliance by private bodies
Importance notice: The notice of exemption confirming the extension of the deadline for submission of section 51 manuals until December 2020 can be located in Government Gazette Notice 39504, No 1222 (11 December 2015).
PAIA gives a requester the right to lodge a request for information with the information officer (head) of a private body.
- A private body is defined as follows in PAIA:
(a) a natural person who carries or has carried on any trade, business or profession, but only in such capacity;
(b) a partnership which carries or has carried on any trade, business or profession; or
(c) any former or existing juristic person”
- PAIA defines the head of a private body as: “the chief executive officer or equivalent officer of the juristic person or any person duly authorized by that office….”
In terms of section 51 of PAIA, private bodies must within six (6) months of coming into existence, submit an information manual to the Commission.
To comply with section 51 of PAIA, the head of a private body must:
- compile a section 51 manual (downloadable generic template). The details that must be contained in the section 51 manual can be found in section 51 of PAIA
- after compilation, the manual must be signed by the head of your organisation (initialed on every page and a full signature on the last page) and submitted to the Commission (NO FEES are payable to the Commission for submission of your manual)
- The manual must also be made available at the company’s offices and website Section 51 Manuals must only be sent to the following email address: email@example.com
- In terms of in Government Gazette Notice 39504, certain private bodies are exempt from compiling and submitting information manuals to the SAHRC in terms of section 51 of PAIA. until 31 December 2020.
- In terms of Government notice no.34914, certain private bodies MUST still submit their manuals in terms of section 51 of PAIA to the SAHRC i.e. those private bodies which operate in specific sectors, with 50 or more employees OR operate in specific sectors and have an annual turnover equal to or exceeding specific amounts. The particular sectors and applicable turnover amounts are listed below:
Step 1 and 2 are compulsory
- If step 3 AND 4 both apply- The company must submit
- If ONLY step 3 and not 4 applies- The Company must submit
- If ONLY step 4 and not 3 applies- The Company must submit
- Where step 3 and 4 DO NOT apply- The Company is exempt from complying
Tel: (011) 877 3645
Tshepang Sebulela – firstname.lastname@example.org
In 2013, President Zuma signed the Protection of Personal Information Act (POPI) into law. The commencement date of POPI is still to be determined by the President. However, the President has signed a proclamation declaring certain parts of POPI as operational.
POPI seeks to control the processing of personal information by both public and private bodies. Processing means anything done with the personal information of a person, including collection, usage, storage, dissemination, modification or destruction.
- POPI establishes an Information Regulator (IR). In terms POPI, the Information Regulator is an independent body and once established, will be accountable to the National Assembly of Parliament.
- The IR can receive complaints from both requesters and third parties in terms of PAIA.
- The IR will have powers to investigate complaints relating to non-compliance with POPI and PAIA.
- All powers and responsibilities currently being performed by the Commission in terms of PAIA will be taken over by the IR once that office has been established i.e. all section 32 reports, section 14 manuals and section 51 manuals will have to be submitted to the IR.