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South Africa’s Information Regulator has announced it will be taking over the mandate functions of the Promotion of Access to Information Act (PAIA).
The regulator will take over the functions from the South African Human Rights Commission (SAHRC) on 30 June.
The act serves an important role in South African democracy. It enables members of the public and journalists to request certain information and documents from government bodies and businesses.
The act specifically states that “everyone has the right of access to any information held by the State and to information held by another person that is required for the exercise or protection of any rights”.
New PAIA amendments
The latest amendments to the act also stipulate that information about political party and candidate funding must be made available to the public. It also covers how public and private bodies process personal information in terms of the Protection of Private Information Act (POPIA).
As such, companies must compile and submit a PAIA manual that covers matters related to the act. Companies that already have a PAIA manual must update them following the amendment.
The manuals must then be available at their principal place of business or website.
To simplify the process, the Information Regulator will soon publish manual templates as a guide.
“PAIA ensures that the state promotes a human rights culture and social justice,” the regulator said in a statement.
“It also encourages openness and is there to establish mechanisms or procedures which give effect to the right of access to information in a speedy, inexpensive, and easy manner.”
While members of the public can request information, a PAIA request still needs to be approved. The Department of Justice notes that the PAIA act is not unlimited.
You can see a summary of FAQs on the PAIA act on the Department of Justice website.
Featured image: Unsplash/Glenn Carstens-Peters