n Mousaion - South Africa's access to information legislation and socio-economic rights : civil society and meaningful engagement as drivers

Volume 34, Issue 1
  • ISSN : 0027-2639



The inclusion of access to information (ATI) in the Constitution of the Republic of South Africa (Act No. 108 of 1996, hereafter the Constitution) and its concomitant legislation, the Promotion of Access to Information Act (PAIA) (No. 2 of 2000), is aimed at promoting transparency, accountability and democratic governance in the hitherto closed, authoritarian and apartheid society. The Constitution goes further to entrench socio-economic rights (SERs) in order to address the past injustices of ignorance, fear and want that impair the dignity of the majority of South Africans. ATI is described as the 'touchstone' of all human rights and upon which the other human rights, including SERs, are buttressed. SERs are, supposedly, enforced by the courts of law. However, their justiciability has become acrimonious and adversarial because it may include the courts making orders that may have budgetary implications, which usually fall under the purview of the executive-cum-legislation, thus undermining the separation of powers doctrine. The study suggests the concept of meaningful engagement to break the impasse, arguing that the concept is more 'user-friendly' and grounded in the Constitution and other statutory instrument and practices in the governance of South Africa.

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