As the world marks International Day of Universal Access to Information, South Africa remains with challenges in this regard. South African Human Rights Commission (SAHRC) CEO, Advocate Tseliso Thipanyane says access to information is important for democracies.
He says this access to information can be an effective tool of holding government to account.
SAHRC together with the Information Regulator of South Africa are meeting on Friday morning in celebration of this day, to celebrate efforts in bringing access to information for all South African citizens.
Thipanyane says the country has made major strides in recent years, but more needs to be done to promote this human right, adding that the establishment of the Information Regulator of South Africa is one such stride.
He says government is mandated by the Protection Of Access to Information Act to make public information available to it’s citizens.
He also admits that despite the advances made, we still need to do more to ensure that this public information and data is inclusive, citing that people with disabilities can sometimes be left out in the cold. Government is yet to have audio adaptations of its websites for example, for people who are blind.
Another issue is that of the language that is used to share this information. English continues to dominate government information tools as the language of sharing information with the public, especially online. He admits that the public broadcaster has a role to play in this regard through its Public Broadcast Service radio stations.
Tshipanyane stressed the importance of allowing citizens to easily access data meant for public consumption.
The day is recognised by the United Nations, under UNESCO.