10 July 2015

SAHA completes phase two of PAIA Local Government training project in preparation of third and final phase

SAHA’s Freedom of Information Programme (FOIP) team has concluded the second phase of the pilot training workshops, held in collaboration with Makana Municipality and Emfuleni Local Municipality.

This second phase of the pilot was focussed on the role of municipalities in making information available in response to PAIA requests, requests for access to information, made in terms of the Promotion of Access to Information Act, 2000 (PAIA). The training was well received with one delegate, a personnel officer from Emfuleni Municipality, specifically noting that the training has given her the legal tools for decision making that is every day in her role within the Municipality. While it was great for FOIP to meet up with some of the delegates that attended the first workshop and to hear more about their access to information experiences since the first workshop, it was unfortunate that in the case of both municipalities there was a scarcity of officials that have the authority to implement decisions around PAIA within their municipalities. This is especially so as the primary purpose of this pilot project is to improve compliance around PAIA within municipalities and an important part of ensuring improved compliance is strengthening the capacity of senior management officials that play a key role in decision making in terms of PAIA.

In the case of Makana Municipality, attendance was generally fair, although the number of attendees was slightly less than it was for the first workshop. A main concern however was that, amongst the attendees, no one was in a management position, which makes the process of implementing the learning covered in the training workshops rather difficult for delegates. Moreover, the absence of senior management officials in the training workshops has a negative impact on the key goals of the project which include strengthening the capacity for reasoned decision making around PAIA within municipalities. Emfuleni Municipality, had very low levels of attendance with over 80% of attendees from the first workshop, not attending the second workshop. A lack of attendance from senior management officials will hinder the process of ensuring that these officials are sensitised to their Municipality’s duties under PAIA, duties for which their Municipal Managers, stand accountable.

SAHA has approached both Makana Municipality and Emfuleni Local Municipality about ensuring that the key decision makers from their Municipality will the in the room when we present the third and final workshop towards the end of July. SAHA believes that both these Municipalities will provide their cooperation, as they have done in the past, and is looking forward to productive and engaging discussions in the upcoming, final, workshop.

While in Makana FOIP also managed to squeeze in some training, arranged through partner organisation Public Service Accountability Monitor (PSAM), for community activists, on the submission of PAIA requests.  This training was well received by participants, one of whom indicated:

I have benefitted from today’s workshop because I did not know about PAIA, and I must say that it will help me as I am a journalism student