12 May 2011

Makana Municipality: SAHA lodges complaint with the Public Protector

On 12 May 2011, SAHA was forced to lodge a complaint against the Makana Municipality for their consistent failure to properly deal with a series of requests lodged under the Promotion of Access to Information Act on behalf of community members in the Municipality.

Since 24 June 2010 SAHA has been attempting to assist community members to get information about various appointments that occurred within the Municipality. Whilst seemingly an uncontroversial request, the Municipality has ignored all attempts to access the information. SAHA has also, in the limited communication from the Municipality, been treated with a level of hostility which is not only inappropriate but in contrast to the manner in which the Batho Pele Principles require the Municipality to engage with the community. In spite of numerous and regular attempts to communicate, SAHA has been left with no alternative but to complain directly to the Public Protector. The Municipality in fact went so far as to even ignore our communications indicating that we intended to lay a complaint. For a copy of the complaint laid with the Public Protector visit here.

On 4 May 2011 the Makana Municipality announced that it had lodged a complaint with the Broadcasting Complaints Commission (BCC) following a Cutting Edge expose, screened on 28 April 2011 on the SABC. While the Municipality clearly has a right, as do all South Africans, to lodged complaints with the BCC, it is hoped that this complaint is not just a continuation of the Municipality's tendency toward repressing information and their citizen's rights to be informed. Good governance, and the Batho Pele principles which should underscore the Municipality's activities, demand openness, transparency and access to information. Perhaps the instinct of the Municipality should have been to try and directly address the issues raised by the documentary, instead of trying to suppress the reports while failing to properly address their substance.