Intelwatch is deeply concerned at the recent decision, issued by South Africa’s Minister of Justice and Correctional Services, to exempt the State Security Agency from the requirement to produce a manual in terms of the Promotion of Access to Information Act (PAIA).
While this does not exempt the Agency from its obligations to process requests for information in terms of PAIA, the PAIA manual plays a vital role in facilitating a culture of transparency and accountability.
Regrettably, this exemption appears to be a backward step at a time when strengthening transparency and accountability at the Agency is a stated priority for government, and a matter of considerable public interest. The Judicial Commission of Inquiry on State Capture and the High-level Review Panel on the State Security Agency both made findings that the SSA has operated with excessive secrecy beyond what is justified by legitimate national security reasons.
The grounds to exempt the SSA from this important transparency mechanism is especially unclear given that the Agency had recently published an updated PAIA manual on its website.
Accordingly, Intelwatch has written to the Minister of Justice and South Africa’s Information Regulator urging a review of this decision, and calling for all parties to ensure appropriate transparency measures are in place until the recommendations of the Zondo Commission and High-Level Panel are fully implemented.
Access Intelwatch’s letter here.