South Africa transformed from a racially exclusive, closed and secretive apartheid state to a fully fledged democratic state in April 1994 following the first national democratic election. Democracy in South Africa is premised on a progressive and transformative Constitution enshrining a Bill of Rights with universal adult franchise. The very process of Constitution making was consultative in the broadest possible sense involving the participation of South Africans in every corner of the country.
- strengthen corruption combating instruments and capacity to increase integrity management systems;
- strengthen mechanisms for meaningful citizen engagement in service delivery improvement and policy development processes;
- hold public servants accountable to the public and the communities they serve through the development and implementation of an accountability management framework for public servants.
South Africa's Open Government efforts to date
1. Combating corruption
2. Media and civil society freedom
The South African Constitution provides for freedom of expression which includes freedom of the press and other media.1 South Africa also has a vibrant independent civil society sector with an estimated permanent workforce of more than 500 000 individuals.2 This sector is mainly funded by local, regional and international donor organisations with a significant amount receiving state funding for work in areas of health care, early childhood development, food security and governance. The right to freedom of association is protected under South Africa`s constitutional dispensation which implies that individuals and groups are free to establish, belong to, and engage in lawful activities of civil society organisations.
3. Enhancing transparency in Government
To promote transparency in South Africa, Government has - among other legislation3 - enacted the Promotion of Access to Information Act (PAIA) in 2000 to ensure that information on Government activities and decisions are freely available to the public. PAIA seeks to promote a culture of transparency and accountability in public and private bodies and to actively promote a society in which the people of South Africa have effective access to information to enable them to more fully exercise and protect all of their rights. All three spheres of government in South Africa engage in transparent planning and budgetary processes. These good governance practices allude to why South Africa, one of the world`s newest democracies, scored the highest with an overall score of 92% on a good governance barometer such as the Open Budget Index of 20104. This independent, comparative, regular measure of budget transparency and accountability around the world indicates that South Africa provides extensive budget information in most areas examined by the Open Budget Index.5 This progress is significant especially in the context that South Africa, as a new democracy, scored 86% in the 2008 index after the UK`s score of 87%, one of the world`s more established democracies.
4. Promoting accountability in Government
The Promotion of Administrative Justice Act (PAJA) was enacted in 2000 to give effect to the constitutional injunction that public administration in South Africa must be accountable. PAJA establishes the right to just administrative action by facilitating a culture of accountability, openness and transparency in the public administration. In general, PAJA ensures that there are rules, regulations and mechanisms in place that call upon Government organs to justify their actions, act upon requirements made of them, and accept responsibility for failure to perform.
5. Increasing civic engagement
The South African Government actively promotes responsive and effective governance by engaging communities and civil society organisations on an ongoing basis through consultative gatherings known as izimbizo7. Izimbizo provide a platform for Government-citizen dialogue about public service delivery and policy matters. In September 2009, the South Africa Government launched the Presidential Hotline as part of its drive to enhance interaction with citizens8. The Hotline receives citizen complaints about issues such as public service delivery and corruption.