SA needs greater access to information

Friday, September 29, 2017

Communications Minister Ayanda Dlodlo has called on all sectors involved in the communications space to help strengthen institutions to address the need for greater access to information.

“Access to information forms the cornerstone of our constitutional democracy and as critical players in the communications space, we have a responsibility to ensure that we strengthen institutions and create platforms that will bring people into the conversation about our state of democracy and development as the country,” Minister Dlodlo said on Thursday.

The Minister was speaking at a seminar organised by The Economist to mark UNESCO’s International Day on Access to Information, in Sandton.

Focusing on the theme, Securing the Future of the Fourth Estate”, various panels consisting of leading media commentators and senior journalists from South Africa and abroad decried the state of media and the need for diversity and access to information generally.

The Minister said the regulatory environment in South Africa is not a hindrance to efforts towards diversification of media platforms in order to broaden access.

Instead, players in the communications space needed to collaborate creatively and with determination to support the small and upcoming media owners especially from rural areas.

She also made a firm commitment to pay particular attention to both the public broadcaster and the Media Development and Diversity Agency as catalysts in the agenda to open and diversify access especially for poor and marginalized communities.

“We need new voices in the discourse about democracy and people empowerment in our country and both these institutions occupy a niche position towards the achievement of this imperative.”

On the matter of the lapse of the term of the Interim Board, which may be a concern to many people, the Minister said the provisions of the Public Finance Management Act in Section 49 are meant to address this kind of a situation regarding reporting lines of executive management.

The provisions state that accounting authorities at every public entity must have an authority which must be accountable for the purposes of this Act.

The act also states that if the public entity -- has a board or other controlling body, that board or controlling body is the accounting authority for that entity.

If it does not have a controlling body, the chief executive officer or the other person in charge of the public entity is the accounting authority for that public entity unless specific legislation applicable to that public entity designates another person as the accounting authority. –

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