Access to Information Legislation
Constitution of the Republic of South Africa
The right to information in South Africa is enshrined in the Constitution. It states in section 32:
Everyone has the right of access to -
- any information held by the state; and
- any information that is held by another person that is required for the exercise or protection of any rights.
Promotion of Access to Information Act
In 2000 the Promotion of Access to Information Act (PAIA) was enacted to give effect to the constitutional right to information. PAIA establishes the key rights and restrictions that apply when accessing information, including:
- who is entitled to request information;
- what entities information can be requested from;
- the type of information that can be requested;
- how a request for information must be made;
- how long the information holder has to respond to a request;
- when the information holder must release the information requested and when they can withhold that information; and
- the right to appeal a decision of an information holder.
PAIA allows a number of matters regarding its implementation, in particular the form for making requests for information and the fees applicable to such requests, to be regulated by the Minister for Justice and Constitutional Development.
Exemptions from the application of particular aspects of PAIA (including fees) may be granted by the Minister for Justice and Constitutional Development. These amendments are detailed in Government Notices, published in the Government Gazette.