08 February 2013

SAHA capacitates the housing sector on PAIA

Image of low cost houses houses in a townshipWith an aim to educate civil society organisations on the Promotion of Access to Information Act (PAIA), the South African History Archive facilitated a training workshop about this crucial act on 7 February 2013.

The act gives effect to the constitutional right to access to information and serves as a facilitative platform in exercising the said right. PAIA will be instrumental in assisting the Housing sector in their advocacy work to protect their rights. Such rights relate to accessing housing, land, evictions, landlord disputes, RDP housing distribution and criteria and ownership issues among others. This sector will not only have clarity on which department to deal with in order to access specific information, but will know how to go about accessing such information.

The training aims to:

  • assist organisations understand how the right to information is an enabling right, that can help the sector to realise other human rights;
  • explain how information can be used as an advocacy tool; and
  • teach people how to access information by using PAIA.


Colin Haskins, a delegate from the Centre of Study of Violence and Reconciliation had this to say via email:


"Just to say I really found the workshop thought provocative and for the short time I was present it really opened my mind to think about my activism in a different light... I certainly will be at the next meeting..."

Some of the issues raised at the workshop were the failure by the National Department of Human Settlements to have a clear policy and procedure on how to distribute housing and related deliverables like; electricity, water and education and the failure by the Provincial Department of Human Settlements not having operational systems and facilities to respond adequately to members of the public on housing allocation.

It is commonly argued that such shortcomings could be attributed to the fact that South Africa is a young nation with a lot to address. However, delegates at the workshop reiterated that it does not make it any easier to those denied their rights directly or indirectly through incompetence, lack of knowledge, poor administration or otherwise.

During the workshop, demonstrations on how to submit a PAIA request was shown to delegates which motivated them in agreeing to submit real requests, outcomes of which will be discussed in a proposed follow-up workshop in the near future.

Organizations in attendance were:

  • Abahlali baseMjondolo(Kwa-Zulu Natal)
  • Abahlali baseMjondolo (Western Cape)
  • Afesis-Corplan (Eastern Cape)
  • CSVR (Gauteng)
  • Community in concern (North West)
  • SANGOCO (National)
  • Yarona cooperatives (North West)
  • ICRC (Gauteng)
  • ISN (Northern Cape)
  • PlanAct (Gauteng)
  • YACOSA(Mpumalanga)


Find out more about SAHA's access to information work.