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The Role of the Right to Information in the Contestation of Power in South Africa’s Constitutional Democracy

Fola Adeleke


South Africa is the first country in Africa more than twenty years ago to recognise the right of access to information and to pass a law for the practical enforceability of this right through the Promotion of Access to Information Act (PAIA). The aim of the right of access to information is to establish a framework of accountability that allows the public to hold the state accountable through the promotion of transparency. However, due to misconceptions about the nature of the state, the nature of PAIA, the nature of the South African public and how it engages with the state, as well as the inherent nature of state information, the idea of transparency has been skewed in South Africa. As a result, it is necessary to critique the assumptions about transparency and access to information disclosure and to reconsider what factors need to be taken into account to promote good governance in government and to build active citizenship in South Africa.

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