Zuma’s office claims the president should be exempt from the Access to Information Act

May 14, 2010

In heads of argument filed this week, Marumo Moerane, argues that the President, as head of cabinet, is beyond the reach of PAIA. This in a court case to be heard in the North Gauteng High Court on Monday 24 May 2010. The Mail and Guardian (M&G), in a bid to access a report by Deputy Chief Justice Dikgang Moseneke and Judge Sisi Kampempe that relates to issues surrounding Zimbabwe’s 2002 presidential election, filed a PAIA request that was denied. A subsequent internal appeal failed. They approach the High Court for a judicial review of this decision. PAIA under section 12 excludes from its application records of cabinet and its committees. The office of the President’s submission is that “PAIA is not applicable to a record of the President…on the basis that he is Head of State…and the head of cabinet and, therefore, in the context of the facts of this case, the record is a record of the cabinet.” Jeremy Gauntlett, who will be appearing for the M&G asserts that this claim is “unsustainable”. See the newspaper report here.

SALC, SAHA and Southern Africa Centre for Survivors of Torture have approached the same court seeking access to information relating to a report commissioned by former President Thabo Mbeki on the election violence during the March 2008 Zimbabwe elections.

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