PAIA exemption for small businesses ends December 31 - SAHRC

Commission says DOJ considering an extension, exemption of certain juristic persons

Submission of section 51 manuals by private bodies in terms of the Promotion of Access to Information Act

Johannesburg- The Promotion of Access to Information Act (PAIA) aims to increase information flows, transparency and accountability within the public and private sector. The legislation requires private bodies to produce information manuals in terms of section 51 of the Act.

Previously, small businesses were exempted by government from having to develop and submit these information manuals to the South African Human Rights Commission. The exemption from having to do so however lapses on the 31st of December 2011.

The Commission has made recommendations to the Department to exempt certain juristic persons from having to comply with the submission requirements in terms of the Act and is awaiting outcomes on these recommendations.

The Commission has been advised that the Department of Justice and Constitutional Development is considering an extension of the exemption. In the interim, private bodies are requested to monitor the website of the South African Human Rights Commission which will carry a notice on the status of the exemption once received from the Department of Justice and Constitutional Development.

Private bodies are urged to note that no private service providers have been approved or endorsed by Commission.

Private bodies are to note further that no fee payments are required for the submission to the Commission. The penalty provisions which are in place to address non compliance have to date not been implemented.

To assist private bodies develop their manuals, the Commission has posted tools and a guidance note about compliance with section 51 of the legislation on its website,. Contact details for the centre dedicated to compliance in terms of the legislation are also posted on the website.  Access to the Commission through the website and the centre may be slow due to high demand volumes at present.

Statement issued by Vincent Moaga, South African Human Rights Commission, December 9 2011

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