The elusive Mr Galane

By Name Withheld

Request for info submitted:01/07/2013
Outcome:No
Entity: Department of Sports and Recreation

I contacted Mr Galane seeking financial information on the Afcon 2013 grant, but he didn’t respond. I contacted his colleagues, who referred me back to him.

He eventually started sending me SMSes inviting me to “Afcon activation” events, but never touched on the subject of the finances.

He seems to think his role is to publicise the department’s events, not to take any questions from journalists.

Major fail, Paena Galane.

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Current state regarding the now ransacked Bethulie Resort – a municipal facility

By David Spence

Request for info submitted:09/12/2012
Outcome:Still waiting
Entity: Kopanong Municipality / Free State Premier / Office of Economic Development, Tourism and Environmental Affairs

Lease Agreement awarded – not advertised – in 2003. Facility has since been ransacked, demolished and currently lies in a total state of disrepair. Wild game that once roamed the property has “disappeared”. Rental Income not used to maintain the property. Since 2009, Bethulie residents have tried to get feedback from the Municipality, Mayor, Executive Mayor, Municipal Manager, Free State Premier and even involved the Public Protector. To date we have received no satisfactory explanation nor feedback. Latest request sent on the 12th September 2012.

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No surprises

By Ami Kapilevich

Request for info submitted:08/21/2012
Outcome:No
Entity: SASCOC & Department of Sports and Recreation

Simple enough query: all I wanted to know was why both Korfball and Ringball are listed as SASCOC associates. They are, after all, the same sport.

I also dropped an email to Mr. Paena Galane requesting an interview with Fikile Mbalula.

Crickets.

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The mysterious Mr Maphiri

By Gill Moodie

Request for info submitted:02/27/2012
Outcome:No
Entity: Media Development and Diversity Agency

This one is just plain weird. In February this year, I emailed MDDA head Lumko Mtimde and his PA, Harriet, to ask for a phone interview so I could get more details about an on-line advertising booking system for community media proposed by the MDDA in one of their own press releases. Harriet emailed me back, cc-ing Lumko and someone at the MDDA called Nkopane Maphiri. She said only in her mail:
“Dear Mr Maphiri,
Please find below an enquiry from Ms Gill Moodie for your response.
Regards,”

I didn’t hear anything further from the mysterious Mr Maphiri. A week later, on March 2, I emailed Harriet to say I hadn’t heard anything from him and asked is she could tell me what he did at the MDDA and I would pursue it further. I never heard back from Harriet either. How very odd when at the bottom of the press release it said please contact Harriet should one require any further information.

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My request echoes through the corridors of Parly

By Gill Moodie

Request for info submitted:06/22/2012
Outcome:No
Entity: Parliamentary Portfolio Committee on Communications

I first emailed Yoliswa Landu in the Parliamentary Communications Services in June about getting an interview with Eric Kholwane, the chairman of the Portfolio Commitee on Communications, on the proposed print-media charter.

This is NB stuff for our media and I asked for both a phone interview to get comment on a story I was doing for Journalism.co.za and a face-to-face interview later so we could establish a working relationship for the months ahead as this charter gets developed and debated.

The upshot is that last week, around 3rd of July 2012, Yoliswa told me she’d spoken to Eric and I must just phone him on his cell. Yay, I thought, at this unexpected openness. I had to leave a voice message and send an SMS explaining what I wanted… and I never heard a thing. We held the story for a week, to give it another shot. This week, the same story! I asked Yoliswa (who it must be said is very pleasant to deal with) for some help this week with Eric. You guessed it. It came to nought. Sigh.

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Spokesperson Has No Clue

By Athandiwe Saba

Request for info submitted:06/19/2012
Outcome:Yes
Entity: Spokesperson for Gauteng Treasury

Besides the fact that spokespeople have no clue of what deadlines are, I have come to experience that most have no clue what kind of information I am allowed to have as a member of the public.
I have been working on a particular story which meant I had to file numerous Promotion of Access to Information Act (PAIA) applications to all Gauteng departments.

Some departments responded that they did not possess the records I had requested so the next logical step was for me to prove that the departments had the information I requested via PAIA.

I decided to call on the spokesperson of the Gauteng Department of Treasury, John Sukazi, asking for a list of all the departments which were in possession of the requested records. The Treasury would know this as the records I am searching for relate to financial records. He asked that I put my request in writing.

I called Sukazi a couple of days later to check up on the progress and I was told that the list would be unavailable to me as I was already in a a legal process with Gauteng departments on another matter.

Sukazi told me that there was no way I would get the list until the legal process I had started (on an unrelated matter) came to an end.
If I waited for the PAIA process to to be finalised with all the departments and had no way of double checking their responses I would have had to start a whole new process. I made sure that I explained and re-explained this to Sukazi but he seemed to think he knows the processes of PAIA.
I finally decided to approach his seniors, submitted a PAIA, and explained what I had to encounter with Sukazi.

In a week Jeff Mashele, Deputy Information Officer of Treasury sent me the list I needed to proceed with my work.
Sukazi on the other hand had no clue. Instead of consulting with the relevant people in his department he had wasted my time and Gauteng Treasury’s time.

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Pity the poor consumer

By Anne Taylor

Request for info submitted:07/10/2012
Outcome:Still waiting
Entity: National Consumer Commission

All I wanted was to check the contact details for the National Consumer Commission, an agency of the DTi. I also wanted to find out where prohibition notices are now published. Sadly, the website is non-functional (“under maintenance sign on the front page”), the 0860-number listed on the site is not functional, the automated-voice-response switchboard number seems to go into a loop, and the website a black hole (I filled in a contact form twice, to which I got an automated response. Nothing more.)
I also phoned the DTi, thinking they would be able to help, but they referred me back to the NCC. It seems a tragedy that the agency set up by the National Credit Act to protect, inform and advise consumers should be non contactable and unavailable – even for basic information.
I spend a lot of time on government websites as part of my job and can say that, with a few exceptions, the state of e-government in South Africa is woeful. Why GCIS does not enforce a national, provincial and municipal e-governance policy, which includes websites, is a mystery.

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This is how it SHOULD be done… when a spindoctor performs

By Andrew Trench

Request for info submitted:06/27/2012
Outcome:Yes
Entity: South African Revenue Service

I never thought my first”review” would be a glowing one. I’m doing some research for a report we are working on around tax statistics. Sounds boring, I know, but actually a really interesting project.
As part of the project I had to try and dig a little deeper into some numbers that were available to me but needed to flesh things out a bit so I got on to Adrian Lackay over at Sars.
He answered his phone right off, knew exactly what I was talking about and said he would check on some of the other questions I had.
Within an hour I had received a bundle of useful information from him and clarity on the questions I had asked for.
His turnaround, manner and service to me as a journalist were impeccable. This is how it should be done. Thanks, Adrian!

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Is anyone there?

By Gill Moodie

Request for info submitted:01/31/2012
Outcome:Yes
Entity: SABC

I spent more than three weeks asking SABC spokesman Kaiser Kganyago for an interview with the new SABC spokesman (for Bizcommunity) via countless emails and cellphone messages — and not one was ever acknowledged. Continue reading “Is anyone there?” »

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Into the ether… and never coming back

By Gill Moodie

Request for info submitted:06/05/2012
Outcome:No

Trying to find out what the SABC spent on broadcast rights for the London Olympics and details of the planned coverage (for journalism.co.za), I sent spokesman Kaiser Kganyago six emails, left about four cellphone messagess over about eight days. Continue reading “Into the ether… and never coming back” »

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