Do you need and what is an Access to Information Manual? The Promotion of Access to Information Act (PAIA) says that public and private bodies need to create a ‘manual’ that contains, amongst other things:
- The postal and street address, phone and fax number and, if available, e-mail address of the head of the body.
- A description of, and how to obtain access to, a guide on how to use the Act to get information from bodies.
- What records are available to an interested party without having to request access in terms of PAIA.
- A description of the records of the body, which are available in accordance with any other legislation.
- How to request records from the body in terms of the Act.
- Various information related to the Protection of Personal Information Act.
- Such other information as may be prescribed by the Minister.
If you already have a manual, we can review it to check that it complies with the latest law. If yours was drafted before September 2013, it needs to be reviewed and updated. It will also need to be updated to comply with POPI.
Are you exempted?
Most organisations are exempt from having to have a manual
Certain private bodies are exempted – mostly small to medium sized entities. The exemption is extended and the thresholds changed every few years. So far it has been extended in 2006, 2012 and 2016. It is important to check the current exemption and thresholds that apply until 31 December 2020.
What must you do with your Access to Information Manual?
Your manual needs to be available on your website (if it has one) and you must submit it to the South African Human Rights Council. You can either submit it electronically to firstname.lastname@example.org or post it to them.
Why do it?
It is a criminal offence not to submit a PAIA manual if you are required to do so, and you could face some hefty fines if you do not comply. Currently, the SAHRC is not issuing fines for non-compliance, but whether this will remain the case is unknown.
Drafting your Access to Information Manual
If you need to compile a manual, we can draft a PAIA Manual for you.