The Promotion of Access to Information Act, 2000 (or PAIA; Act No. 2 of 2000) is a South African freedom of information law intended to impose compliance with section 32 of SA’s Constitution. It allows access to any information held by the State or by private bodies required for the exercise and protection of any rights.
Why is it, then, that requests for information in accordance with the act are so often met with silence, obfuscation and delaying tactics that force committed appellants to court in order to obtain compliance? This behaviour is so endemic and systemic that clearly government can only be trying to impose a general acceptance of secrecy regarding its affairs so when it acts unlawfully or unwisely it’s misbehaviour is simply buried amongst all other of its dealings. In short, civilians must simply “put up and shut up”. What SA’s government and politicians get up to is simply not any of our business. This tale, “finding-truth-in-a-culture-of-secrecy” expresses the frustration experienced by anyone trying to obtain information from government, particularly about contentious events, such as but not limited to Nkandlagate.
The Direct Democracy Forum have news for anyone taking advantage of this sort of behaviour. As a body which respects constitutional compliance, the DDF find this sort of behaviour unacceptable from government institutions and undertake to enforce strict compliance with the constitution by all branches of government and to prosecute recalcitrants to the full extent of the law. That should bring about a sea-change in bureaucratic attitudes and probably also in bureaucratic behaviour.
The buck stops at the ballot box.