With all the latest debate and concern around the Protection of State Information Bill, it is not surprising that a fair amount of uncertainty has arisen around the Promotion of Access to Information Act (PAIA) Manual. The act was promulgated in 2000 to bring into effect the constitutional right of access to any information held by the state and any information that is held by private bodies (this includes sole practitioners) which is required for the exercise or protection of any rights. Section 9 of the act does however recognise that access to information can be limited. These limitations are in circumstances where such release would pose a threat to the privacy, commercial confidentiality, and the exercising of efficient governance.
How is the act Enforced?
The act is enforced by the South African Human Rights Commission, and is part of a global drive towards freedom of information. Access to your information needs to be through the correct channels, by completing an application form, and submitting this to your Information Officer. In the case of medical practices, it would most likely be the owner of the practice, or one of the partners can be assigned as the Information Officer. We as medical practitioners have been exempt from the earlier deadline. The deadline for practices with a turnover of less than R5 million, or less than 50 employees was to expire at the end of December 2011. This deadline has however been extended further to the 31st December 2015. This is good news for those who have to date not completed their PAIA manual and submitted this to the SAHRC. It is however still a requirement, and should be completed in due time.
The document is most certainly not very complicated to put together, but after some searching, and a few attempts at trying it myself and for some of my clients, I came across a web service which does a great job, and ensures full compliance with the Act. They even submit the final manual to the SAHRC on your behalf. I have completed the process with in 20 minutes, from the on-line information capturing, to the final invoice and document submission, and can vouch for them. So for a streamlined, on-line process in getting your PAIA Manual, visit the site by clicking here. And all it costs is R199!