Govt fails to inform the people: SAHRC

2011-09-28 18:13

Johannesburg - Fewer than half of government departments comply with the constitutional right of citizens to access information, the SA Human Rights Commission said on Wednesday.

Local governments and municipalities in particular were erring by not being transparent, deputy CEO Naledzani Mukwevho told a national information officers' forum in Johannesburg.

Of the 282 municipalities, only 20 had complied with legislation.

"Under 50% [of all government departments] are not complying with the Promotion of Access to Information Act [Paia]," he said.

"We are convinced that if ordinary people have access to information... they can participate. They have the means to hold government accountable."

Section 32 of the Constitution gives everyone the right of access to any information held by the state.

This could include information on where a person featured on the RDP housing list or statistics on HIV/Aids prevalence.

ANC MP Luwellyn Landers, who chairs Parliament's justice and constitutional development portfolio committee, questioned how effective the Paia was.

"Has Paia, with your [information officers'] help succeeded in achieving the rights set out in section 32?" he asked.


An Open Democracy Advance Centre survey had found that government departments and business often used delaying tactics or stonewalling to avoid meeting requests for access to information, he said.

"Mute refusals are still too common. Clearly, we have passed the point when Paia's effectiveness should have been reviewed. Particularly issues around enforcement, timeframes, and the need or desirability for an information commissioner are among the issues requiring review."

The commission's Jenny Love said people needed to understand their right to equality and how this could be achieved.

In order to give weight to these rights, the government needed to be transparent about, accountable, and responsible for the problems which caused inequality in the country.

"Johannesburg has the greatest income and equality disparity in the whole world. We are not giving the people of this country the kind of information that makes them act [on their right to better their circumstances]," she said.

"We need confidence to depend on our citizenry and not simply hope for some degree of blind patience."

Love said one of the hurdles in providing for the right to access information was that some officials denied it on the grounds that disclosure could see them being thrown in front of a "kangaroo court".

While it was accepted that some information was classified and not in the public interest, the definition was not always clear cut.

"I am concerned about the absence of the notion of public interest... there's a lot of information that can get cloaked in the shading of security."

High Court Judge Jody Kollapen echoed Love's concern, saying a lack of accountability, openness and responsiveness by the government about inequalities was a "recipe for social disaster".

"It's a denial of whatever this Constitution stands for."

  • gatvol4corru - 2011-09-28 18:25

    Govt fails virtually at everything! Except : corruption,incompetency,spending and giving comrades job's.

      Pencilgraffiti - 2011-09-28 18:45

      Quite sad... There are some who want Zuma's job now so the knives are out but... who stands beside a man who doesn't stand for anything. He must be quite lonely at the moment

      letsee - 2011-09-28 21:46

      I think they are already working within the Info Bill parameters or the Bill was needed to make those guys right.

  • Vince York - 2011-09-28 18:39

    I tried to get details on Velvet Blue ownership recently and met MUTE response apart from an oblique reference to ticket pricing! Santaco Airlines ownership is also of great interest to the public in general, because of the path they took from sheer warlord violence originating the industry & demolishing other buses and trains and various modes of public transport methods available through those decades. Then to violence in obtaining Taxi Recap of excessive value for EXTREMELY "Short Term Lifespan" pollution vehicles, ownership of the modern Rea Vaya bus system & routes, ownership of route intellectual rights, ownership now of airlines and soon to be announced shipping lines? Exactly WHO are the owners and their feedback money path? Was the Taxi Recap in fact actually needed at all - if they have been profitable enough to now own some of the worlds most expensive capital outlay industries? The TAX PAYER must be suffering enormously at the whims of these few!

      Belatu - 2011-09-28 19:53

      @vegetarian, You seem to like making ill informed comments on News24, Santaco Airlines is not pie in the sky, the Airline has already been launched and completed it's first flight From Lanseria to Bisho. I fully agree with What Vince York says.

  • vegetarian - 2011-09-28 18:44

    @Gatvol4corru The government does not fail to inform, it refuses to inform. Even if you write a letter requesting information, the letter is never responded to. On the issue of giving comrades jobs, do you have any proof that the people who get jobs are comrades. If you are unable to produce proof, I will assume you are bitter due to reducing cash on hand as a result of the end of apartheid.

      Sinudeity - 2011-09-28 18:48

      None so blind as those that refuse to see.

      proudandpink - 2011-09-28 19:11

      Sinudeity ~ So true. Even old Gwede Mumble Mouth stated the other day that there was nothing wrong in giving comrades jobs and saw nothing wrong in the practice. Obviously VrotCabbage had it's head in manure.

      Shivaskar - 2011-09-28 19:11

      @Veggy. Govt has failed at EVERYTHING! Don't make excuses for them. Someone will think you an ANC a55 licker!

      Colin Dovey - 2011-09-28 19:11

      In one word - obviaaas!

      gatvol4corru - 2011-09-28 19:14

      oh boy -- you are indeed very limited comrade if you are afraid of the truth that we are exposed to daily. shyt for brains comrade?

      Shivaskar - 2011-09-28 19:16

      @Veggy. No proof needed that you an idiot.

      Bill - 2011-09-28 20:06 been at the meat again, ain't you!

  • Sinudeity - 2011-09-28 18:56

    Veggie forgets that the ANC is 'investigating' cadre deployment after ANC supporters complained in the last elections. People who were not democratically elected, put into positions. Go ask mantashe about it. Dumb@ss.

      vegetarian - 2011-09-28 19:05

      Any Proof, Sir?

      Sinudeity - 2011-09-28 19:10

      How about mantashe defending cadre deployment?

      proudandpink - 2011-09-28 19:14

      VrotCabbage ~ Get your head out of the compost heap and you might hear a thing or two!

      Sinudeity - 2011-09-28 19:14

      How about the fact that jacob said that there will be by-elections to replace deployed cadres who werent democratically elected?

      Sinudeity - 2011-09-28 19:17

      Veggie, what about the known instance (except to die-hard ANC supporters who deny that cadre-deployment or corruption exist) in Mpumalanga, as one example, were people were included into government, even though they never made the voters roll. Mpumalangas executive committee in response said that those that didnt make the voters roll should be given jobs in government anyways :P

      vegetarian - 2011-09-28 19:33

      Instead of producing the proof that I want, you now come up with rumours of wrongdoing in the province of Mpumalanga. You must understand that government cannot employ all of you, hence the bitterness in your comments. You may get jobs in the expanded public works programme and also in other projects that the government is initiating, but not in the civil service. The civil service can become too bloated if it can take all of you.

      Sinudeity - 2011-09-28 19:35

      None so blind as those that refuse to see.

      Sinudeity - 2011-09-28 19:36

      Spade - 2011-09-29 07:49

      @vegetarian - this is a forum, and its is used for commenting. If you insist that we provide proof, then you're missing the point. We are sharing our opinions and perceptions, no proof required. I am of the opinion that the ANC is a defunct ex-liberation organization that has failed in its transition to a political party. It has displayed a lack of leadership, and has failed at delivering on the majority of its promises. In a bid to "appease the masses", they have resorted to creating a non-existent new "liberation struggle" against a minority group in South Africa. They are mobilising (infiltrating?) their cadres into key positions, and are positioning themselves to strike at the "enemy". If you want any proof of this, start by proving me wrong.

  • Ozymandios - 2011-09-28 19:14

    So the Information Bill has been in practise for sometime then! Gosh George Orwell's 1984 is alive and well in SOuth Africa.

  • Bill - 2011-09-28 20:19

    "Johannesburg has the greatest income and equality disparity in the whole world. We are not giving the people of this country the kind of information that makes them act [on their right to better their circumstances]," she said." Really...and whose fault is this then...??

  • Spook - 2011-09-28 20:40

    This so so true everything else aside for now. I have exposed massive and atrocious illegalities and irregularities in the Food and Beverage Industry over the last 2 years. Many which have and may be proved to be DEADLY!! for unsuspecting customers and consumers. ALL COMPLAINTS ACCEPTED AND VALIDATED AS CORRECT BY THE GOVERNMENT!!! When official complaints where registered with the Department of Health and the Department of Agriculture and the State President and other Governmental Departments.... SINCE JANUARY 2010 TILL TODAY. I HAVE HAD THE SECURITY ACT THROWN IN MY FACE.... but I shall NOT be silenced. The Government WILL SIMPLY NOT inform the WHOLE population as to the horrific and shambolic state the FOOD Control and Safety is in the RSA and has been for more years than can be remembered. SO much for access to information and this is regarding FOODS we consume daily!!! Never mind anything else.

      Bill - 2011-09-28 21:21

      Don’t worry Spook...The Medical Control Council in this country is also a pathetic joke...Better watch what tablet you sluk down your throat next time....! I wrote to them many times over a dangerous counterfeit medication on the market and they have ignored me every time..! P a t h e t i c…!

  • Deeteem - 2011-09-29 05:43

    The ANC ais more like the National Party than they would ever admit !!

  • Spade - 2011-09-29 07:29

    The ANC has failed to make the transition from Liberation Organization to Political Party. The only way forward for them, is to hide their failures from the outside world, and this would imply another "liberation struggle" against all those institutions and principals that are exposing their failures. The vultures are gathering around our dying democracy!

  • Darwinian - 2011-09-29 09:35

    For all the current injustices(xenophobia, minority genocide, ramped rape figures, polarization , justified hate speech, inequity, failed education etc) I must say that the SAHRC silence is deafening. Just another farce of an organization to do the cANCer dance...

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