08 August 2008

Presidential Pardons: FOIP calls Department of the Presidency to Account

Despite SAHAs efforts to settle the maladministration conducted by the Department of the Presidency in connection with the PAIA Request for records concerning Presidential Pardons granted in 2006-2007 this matter remains unresolved. Initially submitted on 07 November 2007 this case remains open despite SAHA being provided with the requested records.

The on-line article of 25 July 2008 details the background of events relating to this request. SAHA is concerned with the conduct of the Department in relation to the letter dated 31 March 2008, sent out to the 515 individuals who received a Presidential Pardon in 2006-2007, stating that Charlotte Young of SAHA had requested their personal information including: sex conscious (sic), financial records, employment history and religious beliefs. This was a complete misrepresentation of the facts and failed to respond accordingly to the Act or to the content of SAHA’s PAIA Request.

SAHA has written to the Department thanking them for disclosing the records requested in the original request however SAHA has also reminded the Department of its duty to resolve this matter. SAHA has stated its willingness to meet with the Department or to assist in some sort of resolution. Nonetheless SAHA has still to receive a genuine response regarding this maladministration and improper conduct.

On Thursday 14 August 2008 SAHA exercised its right to submit a complaint to the Public Protector. Invoking Sections 110 to 114 of the Constitution (Chapter 9) SAHA has urged the Public Protector to investigate this matter in order to protect the public against matters such as maladministration in connection with the affairs of government.

SAHA believes the Public Protector has a duty to investigate the pertinent matters of:(i) protecting the public against maladministration in connection with the affairs of the Department of the Presidency in view of its failure to respect its responsibilities in terms of the Promotion of Access to Information Act 2 of 2000 (PAIA); (ii) improper conduct by an individual officer within the Department whilst performing a public function; and (iii) the misrepresentation of the facts (in the letter dated 31 March 2008) and continued lack of any attempt to resolve this issue as an act or omission by an individual officer within the Department which has resulted in the improper prejudice to both Charlotte Young individually and to SAHA as an organisation.

For further details please contact Charlotte Young, Freedom of Information Programme (FOIP), South African History Archive (SAHA): Email: foip@saha.org.za Tel: 011 717 1941