Civil society has long been calling for the inclusion of an independent, informal, appeal mechanism with enforcement powers, such as an information commissioner, to consider appeals under the Promotion of Access to Information Act, 2000(PAIA). That call has finally been answered with the Protection of Personal Information Act, 2013 (POPIA), which establishes an Information Regulator which will have oversight powers relating to POPIA and PAIA.
PAIA provides very limited avenues for appeal - the right to appeal to the political head of a public body rarely results in a reversal of the original decision, while the high costs associated with court applications makes that avenue of appeal inaccessible to most individuals and civil society organisations. The introduction of the Information Regulator will therefore allow ordinary citizens and civil society organisations to hold public and private bodies accountable for the decisions they make under PAIA.
PAIA has now been amended by POPIA, enabling requesters who have been refused access to information by public or private bodies to submit a complaint to the Information Regulator. The Information Regulator may investigate the complaint and serve a notice on the information officer of the body either confirming their decision or ordering them to release the information. If the Information Regulator directs the information officer to release the information to the requester and they fail to do so, the information officer will be guilty of an offence and can be fined and/or imprisoned.
While decisions of the Information Regulator will not be final, and may be appealed to court, the introduction of an independent, inexpensive and swift avenue for appeal is expected to have a substantial impact on the realisation of the right to information.
DETAILS OF CALL FOR NOMINATION
The Portfolio Committee on Justice and Correctional Services invites nominations from individuals, organisations, institutions and civil society for FIVE suitable persons to be appointed as members of the Information Regulator for a period of five years.
In terms of the Protection of Personal Information Act NO 4 of 2013, members of the Regulator must be South African citizens who are appropriately qualified, fit and proper persons—
▪ at least one of whom must be appointed on account of experience as a practising advocate or attorney or a professor of law at a university; and
▪ the remainder of whom must be appointed on account of any other qualifications, expertise and experience relating to the objects of the Regulator.
A person may not be appointed as a member of the Regulator if he or she—
▪ is not a citizen of the Republic;
▪ is a public servant;
▪ is a member of Parliament, any provincial legislature or any municipal council;
▪ is an office-bearer or employee of any political party;
▪ is an unrehabilitated insolvent;
▪ has been declared by a court to be mentally ill or unfit; or
has at any time been convicted, whether in the Republic or elsewhere, of any offence involving dishonesty.
Nominations must contain the full name, address/email address and contact details of the person or organisation making the nomination; a signed acceptance of the nomination by the nominee; and a Curriculum Vitae (CV) providing the nominee’s:
▪ Full name, ID number and gender;
▪ Contact details including physical address, telephone / cell number and email address;
▪ Relevant previous experience (including relevant dates and organisations concerned); and
▪ Academic qualifications.
Nominations must be addressed to the Committee Secretary, Mr Vhonani Ramaano at firstname.lastname@example.org by no later than Friday, 14 August 2015 at 17h00.
Enquiries can be directed to Mr V Ramaano on tel: (021) 403-3820 or cell: 083 709 8427.
Issued by Dr M Motshekga MP, Chairperson: Portfolio Committee on Justice and Correctional Services. Information
Information about this call for nominations was sourced from the CALL FOR COMMENTS section of the Parliamentary Monitoring Group website.