What is this Act all about? Promotion of Access to Information Act 2000

Section 32 of the Constitution deals with the right of access to information and provides that everyone has the 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.

The Promotion of Access to Information Act 2000 gives effect to section 32 of the new Constitution subject to justifiable limitations, including but not limited to, limitations aimed at the reasonable protection of privacy, commercial confidentiality and effective, efficient and good governance and in a manner which balances the right of access to information with any other rights including the rights in the Bill of Rights in Chapter 2 of the Constitution.

The Act establishes voluntary and mandatory mechanisms or procedures to give effect to that right in a manner which enables persons to obtain access to records of public and private bodies as swiftly, inexpensively and effortlessly as reasonable possible. The Act also promotes transparency, accountability and effective governance of all public and private bodies by empowering and educating everyone to understand their rights in terms of the Act, to understand the functions and operation of public bodies and to effectively scrutinise, and participate in, decision-making by public bodies that affects their rights.

Sections 10, 14, 16 and 51 came into effect on 15 February 2002.

In terms of the Act all businesses must produce and file a Manual in order to comply with the provisions of Section 51 of the Act. This section requires every business to compile a Manual, to have it available for inspection and to file a copy with the South African Human Rights Commission.

This website is intended as an aid to those private bodies that are now required to produce and publish such a manual . . .

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Important Notice
Does this Act mean that anyone may now have access to my records?

The answer is a big NO!

The only person who has any right to request any access to any record of your business is a person who wishes to exercise or protect a right to which he or she is entitled. Such rights may be the result of a contract or may exist because of some Statute.

Rights may also come into existence as a consequence of the person having suffered damages due to the negligence or recklessness of another.

The Act is intended to encourage openness and 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 as reasonably possible and to promote transparency, accountability and effective governance of all public and private bodies by empowering and educating everyone to understand their rights in terms of the Act so that they are able to exercise their rights in relation to private bodies.

The Act does not create any additional rights – it is essentially intended to make it easier for someone who does have a right, to protect that right or exercise that right by making public the name of the contact person and details of the kinds of records a business holds.

The onus of proving that he or she has a right to such records lies with the requester. There are also many grounds for refusing access to any record.

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