CAPE TOWN – Accurate information is the oxygen that keeps democracy breathing. It is the key to ensuring a government’s probity, and to monitoring its relations with the large corporations that drive modern economies. Without accurate information, a country’s citizens are at the mercy of whatever potentially corrupt group happens to be controlling public agencies and making and enforcing the law.
Millions of South Africans suffered the consequences of a lack of information – and considerable disinformation – during the secretive apartheid era. But the country learned from that experience. South Africa’s post-apartheid constitution guarantees the right to public-sector information and, in many cases, private business information as well. South Africa adopted a freedom of information law in 2000, five years before the United Kingdom did.