Section 32(1)(a) of the Constitution of the Republic of South Africa, 1996 (Act No. 108 of 1996) determines that everyone has a right of access to any information held by the state. Section 32(2) of the Constitution provides for the enactment of national legislation to give effect to this fundamental right. The Promotion of Access to Information Act (PAIA), 2000 (Act No. 2 of 2000) is the national legislation contemplated in section 32(2) of the Constitution.
Section 14 of the Constitution provides for the right to privacy. Protection of Personal Information Act (POPIA), 2013 (Act No. 04 of 2013) gives effect to the constitutional right to privacy provided in section 14 of the Constitution
- by safeguarding a person's personal information when processed by public and private bodies;
- in a manner which balances the right to privacy with any other rights, including the rights in the Bill of Rights in chapter 2 of the Constitution, particularly the right to access to information; and
- subject to justifiable limitations, including, but not limited to effective, efficient and good governance and the free flow of personal information, particularly trans-border transfers.
Section 9 of PAIA recognizes that the right of access to information is subject to certain justifiable limitations aimed at, amongst others:
- the reasonable protection of privacy;
- commercial confidentiality; and
- effective, efficient and good governance.
Section 55(2) of POPIA requires the department to register its information officer with the regulator before taking up his or her respective duties in terms of POPIA and PAIA. Section 14(1) of PAIA stipulates that the information officer of the public body must compile a manual in at least three official languages containing information on the public body for public consumption. Should this manual be translated into any other language and there is a conflict or inconsistency between the English version and the other languages, the English language text of the manual shall prevail. Regulation 4 (1) (c) of the POPIA Regulations confirms the publication requirement of PAIA when it stipulates that a manual is developed, monitored, maintained and made available as prescribed in sections 14 and 15 of PAIA. The requirement for a manual is then extended to include POPIA requirements when section 17 of POPIA provides that a responsible party must maintain the documentation of all processing operations under its responsibility as referred to in section 14 or 51 of the Promotion of Access to Information Act.
The purpose of this manual is to ensure that the DFFE (the public body in terms of PAIA and POPIA) complies with the requirements of both PAIA and POPIA.