28 September 2012

SAHA awarded best promoter of PAIA by SAHRC

Tammy O'Connor receives 'best promoter' of PAIA award from the SAHRC on behalf of SAHAOn 28 September SAHA was awarded the ‘best promoter' of the Promotion of Access to Information Act (PAIA) by the South African Human Rights Commission at the Golden Key Awards.

The Golden Key Awards are hosted annually by the Commission on International Right to Know Day to reward best practice in the implementation and use of PAIA.

SAHA was awarded the ‘best promoter' of PAIA in recognition of the work it has done in building the capacity of NGOs and communities, both through training and the publication of resources, to recognise the power of PAIA as an agent for change and to utilise PAIA in their struggles.

This year the theme of the event was ‘access to information and its relevance to the realisation of socio-economic rights'. Addressing attendees, SAHRC Commissioner Pregs Govender spoke powerfully about the power of access to information as an enabling right and the obligation on government to provide information to ensure that the connection is realised.

Commissioner Govender argued that rather than just providing information on request, government should voluntarily provide information that is necessary for people to assert their socio-economic rights. However, she noted that access to information is a political instrument and therefore depends largely on political will, which is unfortunately lacking in South Africa.

Deputy Auditor General, Kimi Makwethu, also highlighted the failure to develop a culture of transparency and accountability in South Africa, commenting that financial management and transparency in local government in South Africa is in a "dire state".

The addresses highlighted the need for further awareness-raising about the right to information among both civil society and information holders and the need to foster a culture of transparency and accountability before the right to information can be fully realised in South Africa.

Other award recipients were:
• Best National Department - Department of Higher Education and Training
• Best Provincial Department - Department of Human Settlement, Western Cape and Department of Agriculture, Limpopo
• Best Municipality - Mogale City
• Best Deputy Information Officer - Stiaan Moolman, Department of Human Settlements, Western Cape
• Best User - Centre for Environmental Rights

Find out more about SAHA's access to information work