How to Get Information
Promotion of Access to Information Act, 2000
- TRANSPARENCY – is about things being in the open – about nothing being hidden. The PAIA helps to ensure honesty in administration and business.
- ACCOUNTABILITY – is about making people responsible for their actions. The PAIA is there to ensure that these obligations are being met.
Under the PAIA you can request information from state bodies or from private bodies.
There is, however, an important difference between the two:
- From a public body you do not need to give reasons why you want the information;
- From a private body you need to be able to show why the information is needed to protect one of your rights.
- The Act talks about a “record” – this is any piece of information that has been written down, or recorded in some other manner;
- There is no obligation on the municipality to create records under the PAIA – you may only request something that is already there.P
- AIA notice - section 15 for Ekurhuleni Municipality.
Two categories of people who can request information:
- Requesters; and
- Personal Requesters – someone with personal interest (information about themselves).
Personal requester does not have to pay for information, whereas a third party requester does.
- The City Manager as Information Officer
- In terms of Act delegated to Deputy Information Officers who can make decisions on his behalf;
- In EMM the Executive Director: Legal and Administrative Services and his Departmental Managers at CCC level have been appointed as Deputy Information Officers to facilitate access to information by the community.
If the information requested affects another person’s rights, that person must be consulted before the Information Officer can resolve on the request.
- The first principle of the PAIA is that it shouldn’t cost the municipality anything to provide the information. The information requested must therefore already be recorded in some form or another.
- Prescribed Fees have been published in the Government Gazette.
- A Requester will have to pay subject to various conditions and fee scales:
- A request fee;
- Access fees;
- Search fee;
- Postage fee.
- Right to privacy – a request can be denied if someone’s right to privacy will be undermined;
- Safety of individuals or property should not be compromised by disclosure of information;
- Commercial secrets and research information – information which is integral to business success can be withheld;
- Law enforcement – should not be compromised by the disclosure of information;
- Information that constitutes legal privilege between lawyer and client can be withheld;
- Information which is related to the defence, security, international relations, economic interest and financial welfare of South Africa does not need to be disclosed;
- Before a decision is made, information that is critical to the decision can be withheld, but will need to be disclosed after that decision has been made;
- A request for information can be withheld if a request is frivolous or vexatious.
The Information Manual In terms of the PAIA the Municipality had to compile a manual in at least three official languages containing:
- A description of the municipality;
- Contact information;
- Type of records;
- Available information;
- Services offered; and
- Application procedures.
The PAIA manuals can be downloaded in various languages.
- An internal appeal may be lodged against a decision of the Information Officer by a requester who is refused a request for information, or by a third party who feels their rights have been compromised by the decision to grant information;
- If the parties are unhappy with the decision of the appeal process, they may take the matter on judicial review (launch an application within a court against the decision)
- Complete and submit prescribed request form;
- Payment of request fee;
- Various steps will be followed by the Information Officer within prescribed time frames;
- On payment of access, research and postage fees information as approved by Information Officer released