To commemorate International Right to Information Day 2015 (#IRTKDAY2015), the Africa Freedom of Information Centre - alongside partner contributors like ODAC - has launched a report looking at the connection between access to information and the fight against corruption in Africa.
As Adv. Pansy Tlakula notes in her foreward:
“It is an established fact that lack of transparency facilitates and acerbates corruption in all aspects of public life whether it is public contracting, legislating on high interest issues or delivering basic services to ordinary people. Indeed, in some African countries, the quality and quantity of public services have not improved despite increase of public expenditure to deliver those services. This has undermined the realisation of human rights, in particular, economic and social rights of millions of people in some parts of the continent”.
Most importantly perhaps, the report contains recommendations for how the battle against corruption, and the promotion of access to information, might be improved in each country. For instance in Zimbabwe, while acknowledging that it "is indisputable is that information is central in empowering citizens to demand accountability", it is recommended that the legislative mechanisms in place are made consistent and more readily engaged with by citizens. And unsurprising to many information activists, in Malawi the recommendation for a dedicated Access to Information Law to be passed stands as a strong call!
Important repeated themes in the report include the call for better records management across the continent, as well as a considered exploration of the potential of the Open Government Partnership to forward ATI on the continent.
The report covers South Africa, but also Algeria, Nigeria, Ghana, Liberia, Ethiopia, Kenya, Kenya, Rwanda, South Sudan, Tanzania, Uganda, Botswana, Malawi, Mozambique, Zambia and Zimbabwe.
The full coverage of South Africa, written by ODAC's Head of Legal Research Gabriella Razzano, is contained from pages 81-86. However, the most important recommendations are that:
- In furtherance of Article 9 of the AU Convention, the Information Commission should be established independently and adequately funded post–haste to give full expression to the South African Promotion of Access to Information Act.
- In furtherance of Article 5(3) the independence of corruption fighting must be strengthened, and the current consistent pattern of political interference halted with immediate effect.
- In furtherance of Article 9, 5(3) and others, South Africa should fully implement the transparency commitments it has made in terms of both National Action Plans it has tabled before the Open Government Partnership.
- In furtherance of Article 7(4) of the AU Declaration, the Chief Procurement Office should fully implement their e–Tender portal and capacitate SME’s for its full utilisation to be ensured.