PAIA Guide

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PAIA Guide

The Constitution of the Republic of South Africa, 19961 (“Constitution”) states that South Africa is a sovereign and democratic state that is founded on the advancement of human rights and an accountable, responsive and transparent system of governance as part of its values. Before South Africa became a constitutional democracy with an enforceable Bill of Rights, the system of Government in South Africa amongst others, resulted in a secretive and unresponsive culture in both public and private bodies which often led to the abuse of power and human rights violations.

It is in this regard that section 32(1) of the Bill of Rights in the Constitution, provides for the right of access to information held by the state; and any information held by another person that is required for the exercise or protection of any rights. Section 32(2) of the Constitution in turn provides for the enactment of national legislation that will give effect to this right, by respecting, protecting, promoting and fulfilling this right.

The Promotion of Access to Information Act, No. 2 of 2000 (hereinafter referred to as “PAIA”, or “the Act” interchangeably), as amended, is the national legislation which was enacted in accordance with the above-mentioned section 32(2) of the constitution. The aim of PAIA, is to foster a culture of transparency and accountability in public and private bodies. It does that by giving effect to the right of access to information and actively promoting a society in which the people of South Africa have effective access to information to enable them to more fully exercise and protect all of their rights and also to realise South Africa’s goals of an open and participatory democracy.