29 May 2015
SAHA concludes phase 1 of PAIA Local Government Collaborative Training Project
SAHA’s Freedom of Information Programme (FOIP) team has been conducting Promotion of Access to Information Act, 2000 (PAIA) capacity building and access to information workshops with different municipalities in 2015. These municipalities are Makana Municipality (Grahamstown) and Emfuleni Local Municipality (Vaal).
FOIP has also been meeting with the respective communities, falling within those municipal areas to help them unpack their problems and identify their information needs. These needs are then relayed to their respective municipal management staff, as part of the capacity building training, to promote the proactive disclosure of the information sought by each community. This promotes transparency and strengthens the relationship between communities and their local government officials.
SAHA is pleased to announce that Phase 1 of the local government project has been completed successfully, with SAHA engaging and interacting with both communities and municipalities participating in this collaborative initiative. The communities in the Makana and Emfuleni municipal areas raised three key information needs: : the Intergrated Development Plans (IDPS) of their municipalities, records related to Reconstruction and Development Programme (RDP) housing within their communities, and records related to consultation mechanisms employed by their respective municipalities to engage their communities on important issues and developments that directly affect community members.
Municipal officials from both Makana and Emfuleni Local municipality were very keen to ensure that they are compliant with PAIA. Furthermore, some of the delegates from Emfuleni Local Municipality mentioned how important it is for municipal staff to regard their communities as capable of understanding and working with the records relating to their problems. They highlighted that it is important to proactively release and engage with requested records, to avoid miscommunication about the information contained therein, Similarly, a delegate from Makana Municipality noted the importance of proactive release in building a healthy trust relationship with the local community. Another delegate from Emfuleni noted how it was necessary to move from a minimum-compliance mentality to a service attitude that will see government going the extra mile to assist the communities they serve.
Some other general feedback from SAHA’s interaction with the officials that participated in the workshop included the following statements by stakeholders:
“As a municipality we have benefitted from this workshop as we have a better understanding of the importance of the PAIA Act, 2000, and are confident that we will be able to apply the provisions of this Act accordingly”
“I have learnt a lot today that will enable me to assist with ensuring that PAIA is effectively implemented within my municipality to promote accountable service delivery to our community”
SAHA is looking forward to conducting the second phase of the PAIA Local Government Collaborative Training Project with Makana Municipality and Emfuleni Local Municipality. This should take place within the next month, with a continuation of learning whilst building the capacity of the municipal officials within these municipalities to promote proactive disclosure through making information available; and ensuring sustainable and integrated record keeping and management practices.