The City of Cape Town has been rated the best municipality for the second consecutive year for its access to information policies and practices at the 2010 Golden Key Awards.
The awards stem from a collaboration between the Open Democracy Advice Centre (ODAC) and the South African Human Rights Commission (SAHRC) and took place on International Right to Know Day, 28 September 2010, at a ceremony in Johannesburg. The awards acknowledge best practices by public institutions which promote openness, responsiveness and information-sharing in South Africa through the implementation of the Promotion of Access to Information Act (PAIA).
A total of 82 institutions were sampled this year, of which 26 responded to the requests. Eight out of 34 municipalities responded at the local government level. The City of Cape Town won two awards: Best Municipality for Openness and Responsiveness and Best Deputy Information Officer.
The City of Cape Town was commended for outstanding work in putting the necessary mechanisms in place to promote openness and responsiveness within the establishment. The City was further recognised for its ‘sterling work in going beyond the call of duty in implementing PAIA and putting other mechanisms in place that not only influence the implementation of PAIA, but also influence the responsiveness and openness of other municipalities in South Africa as well.’
The entrants were assessed according to four criteria:
- The institution’s roadmap, which refers to its process for submitting a request for information. The roadmap should be published in the government directory, displayed on the institution’s website, and be available at the institution’s front office
- Records management, which refers to the way records are generated, organised and stored. A system must be in place which ensures that all records held by the institution are well documented and organised so that they can be easily identified when a request for information is received
- Internal mechanisms, which reveal how well an institution puts into operation the provisions set out in the PAIA. This includes procedures for documenting requests, processing requests on time, assisting requestors and voluntary publishing of records
- Resources, which refers to the human and financial resources allocated to implementation of the PAIA and the institution’s commitment towards enabling staff to promote the right to know
The City is required by law to respond to all requests for information within 30 days. In 2009/2010 the City processed 197 requests for information.
The awards also recognise outstanding achievements by Deputy Information Officers (DIOs) at public institutions who implement the Act, engage with the media and promote their understanding of the Act, while creating awareness thereof for the general public as well. This year the City’s Advocate Jill Fabing received the award in recognition of her outstanding commitment to promoting the right to access to information. The SAHRC and ODAC applauded her ‘dedication and commitment’ and said they hoped it would be emulated by other DIOs across the country.
Advocate Fabing was recognised for her assistance in setting up the Cape Town Deputy Information Officers Forum, a memorandum of co-operation between the ODAC, the Provincial Government of the Western Cape, and the City of Cape Town, and for her training sessions with City Councillors. The memorandum will see the three parties involved in a programme to train other municipalities and provide a system of support. This programme is currently in its implementation stage.
This week the City welcomes a delegation from the International School for Transparency which includes delegates from India, Jamaica, Bangladesh and Uganda. The group is visiting Cape Town to learn more about the implementation of the PAIA. The ODAC asked the City to host the delegation and to share its Access to Information systems to foster a culture of open and transparent administrations throughout the world.
“By sharing our ideas, knowledge and expertise in the field of access to information, we hope to set the standards and practices to which other institutions, administrations and governments should aspire for a truly free and open society,” said Acting Executive Mayor, Alderman Ian Neilson.