Promotion of Access to Information Act Manual (PAIA)



The Department of Justice and Constitutional Development has extended the exemption which was to have lapsed on the 31st of December 2011. Private companies within certain sectors are now exempted from compiling and submitting information manuals in terms of section 51 of the Promotion of Access to Information Act to the South African Human Rights Commission until the 31st of December 2015. 

While these private companies no longer have to submit manuals during the period of the new exemption they are not exempted from complying with the rest of the Act. Please also note that if an entity is a private body but not a private company as defined in the Companies Act of 2008 e.g. an non-governmental organization, it will not have to comply with section 51 of the legislation until the end of the moratorium exempting such companies.

In terms of the Government notice no.34914 certain private bodies will still have to submit their manuals in terms of the legislation to the Commission.

These private bodies are those which operate in specific sectors, with 50 or more employees OR operate in specific sectors and have an annual turnover equal to or exceeding specific amounts.

Guidance Notes:

Please note in general that the PAIA legislation creates the framework to the right to access information enshrined in section 32 of the Constitution of the Republic of South Africa, Act 108 of 1996. The purpose of this legislation is to promote a culture of transparency, accountability and good governance both in the private and public sectors. Therefore, the Act places specific compliance requirements on both state institutions and private sector.

PAIA gives a requester the right to lodge a request from the information officer (head) of a private body. A private body as defined in the Act includes juristic bodies. The Act further defines the head of a private body as “the chief executive officer or equivalent officer of the juristic person or any person duly authorized by that office….”

In terms of section 51 of PAIA, the head of a private body must:


  • compile a section 51 manual which is a roadmap of the company
  • submit the manual to the South African Human Rights Commission once
  • effect material changes if any each time these occur and resubmit to the SAHRC
  • electronic submissions to the Commission, thereafter followed by hard copy originals;
  • update any material changes on the manual on a regular basis;
  • make the manual available as prescribed by the Act at the company offices and on their website;
  • must annex a request form to the manual and also make request form available on the website and at the company premises access points;
  • there are penalties for non-compliance – please see section 90 of PAIA, the Commission has not imposed fines for non-compliance to date but reserves the right to do.


The manual must contain specific information which HR101 can assist you to compile and submit to the relevant authorities.  Please note the exemption from compliance lasts until the 31st December 2015, thereafter all organisations must comply with this legislation.