28 October 2016

Failing to provide a PAIA manual: an open letter to municipal managers

The Promotion of Access to Information Act, 2000 (PAIA) requires of every institution, public or private, to which a request for access to information (‘PAIA request’) can be submitted to keep, and update, a ‘PAIA manual’. The PAIA manual must reflect detail, among other things, about how persons responsible for processing PAIA requests can be contacted, the kinds of records of information held by that institution and the records available from that institution without the need for a formal PAIA request. The manual must also be hosted on that institution’s website.

The additional feature to SAHA’s PAIA Request Tracker launched last month, the so called 'Requestee page’, tracks compliance with this provision, noting both whether the relevant institution has a PAIA manual on their website and whether the manual is up to date.

SAHA has sent the following open letter to all municipalities that have failed to publish a PAIA manual on their website:

Dear Municipal Manager,


The constitutional right of access to information requires that a manual be compiled in no less than three official languages, and containing all the necessary details about your municipality, that will enable the public to requests information from your municipality. The Promotion of Access to Information Act, 2000 (PAIA) and related legislation gives effect to this duty.

It has come to our attention that your municipality is failing to comply with certain statutory provisions of PAIA, as has been recorded on SAHA’s public facing website tracing compliance with PAIA – see http://foip.saha.org.za/requestee/search

Furthermore as you are most likely aware, failure to comply with any of the provisions of section 14 of PAIA results in an offense being committed and you are therefore liable on conviction to a fine, or to imprisonment for a period of two years.

You are requested therefore to comply with the statutory provisions of PAIA and compile the section 14 manual as a matter of urgency. Should your municipality fail to comply with our request, as contained herein, by the end of November 2016, it is the intention of our office to submit a PAIA request for the missing records.

Your urgent attention is appreciated.


The South African History Archive

Read more about SAHA's PAIA requests here

Read more about the compliance functionality of the Tracker here

Access the Requestee page here