Access to Information
"At the heart of the conflict in South Africa lies power; and information confers power, control over information is related to control over people's lives." - Professor Mbulelo Mzamane (27 January 1994).
Access to information is the catalyst for freedom of expression in all its forms. The programme monitors legislation and fights for and promotes the right of equal access to information and knowledge, including opposing any limitations imposed on the freedoms by the state, private sector or civil society.
Advocacy for greater access to information is central to all FXI interventions. Working through organisations and social movements that are engaged in struggles around access to basic services, the access to information programme provides public education and empowers individuals, NGOs and social movements to use South Africa’s right of access to information. Using the Promotion of Access to Information Act (PAIA) as its primary tool, this programme directly intervenes and provides support that gives effect to the right to access information for all.
The programme focuses on access to information regarding basic services and service delivery including water, waste management, electricity, health and transport. Basic services are regarded as a human right in South Africa. The Constitution recognizes these rights and places a positive obligation on the government to fulfil these basic services. The FXI embarks on campaigns to change the information access regime to ensure proper usage by those most affected by the delivery of basic services and government policy on these services are created.
The increasing commercialisation of basic services and service delivery is making them inaccessible to the poor. As a result, struggles are emerging around access to affordable services, including access to information on the activities and plans of government departments and companies responsible for service delivery. The access to information programme provides assistance to individuals, organisations and social movements with information requests on the activities of South African public and private companies involved in the delivery of basic services. The access to information programme lobbies these companies to ensure compliance with the Constitutional provision around access to information.