Access to Information Act - quick fix
By Peter Carruthers who can be contacted at www.petesweekly.co.za;
An interesting thing about life - the day you stop having problems is the day you die. Failing death - the final human experience - each day is about facing challenges and overcoming them and learning from them. Or having them overcome you, and learning from them! That's life. And it's good. No matter how bad it is, life is somewhat better than the alternative, isn't it?
Which brings me to the point of this weeks email. Our beloved government has seen fit to encumber us little guys with yet another burden. This one is called the Access to Information Act. I mention it here because a recent show of hands at one of the seminars indicated that most of us don't yet know about it. Since we must each comply with its terms by the end of this month - or face fines, penalties, and other pain in the bottom time-wasting administrative hiccups, queues and general bureaucratic ineptitude - it made sense to bring it to your attention today.
This act was originally designed to make it easy for people to get information out of large faceless bodies - big business and government. Some sparky fellow had the idea that every single business in SA - irrespective of size or structure - should also fulfill these same formalities. This includes one-man sole proprietor fly by the seat of your pants without instruments rickety airship of enterprise type businesses - like yours and mine.
The first deadline passed some time ago - and as is becoming usual in this wonderful country - it was met with a big yawn and almost zero acquiescence. The next deadline is at the end of August. Chances are that some department will try and vex us by applying the letter of the law without regard for the consequences - so lets avoid that frustration by getting this farce out of the way this week.
There are a few advantages, of course. Apart from the information that is supposed to be readily available, you can now force people to pay you for any sundry info they want from you about your firm! [I suggest that this might not be a good technique to apply to prospective clients.] And you can even force applicants for such information to fill in the prescribed forms [in triplicate], wait the prescribed period, and then post [the version involving envelopes and stamps] the information to them - so that we too can take as long to service requests as our bigger, more corporate and civil service brethren have been doing since business began in Ancient Egypt. Or was it Mesopotamia? Methinks I must fill in the prescribed form to get the facts straight forthwith.
Most of us are convinced that our success or failure in business lies in the excellence with which we supply our goods and services. In reality, most of us will experience catastrophe from 'business' related issues - changes in tax laws, legislation, and the like. And from tripping over these little legislative land mines that our government believes will foster small business efforts in SA.
Our job, as pilots of the Cessnas of free enterprise, is to be aware of the changes, and to respond to these new rules. Or to find another, more gentle business environment to trade in - like Zimbabwe, or Liberia. Free enterprise seems to be getting awfully expensive nowadays, doesn't it?
You can find a bunch of information about this new Act on the web - but may I suggest you zip along to the LabourNet web site [click here and follow the Access to Information link on the left] and download the WORD templates they offer free. Then simply customise these to match your own business. [If you need to ask them a few questions - please understand that this won't be free.]
And then submit these forms to whatever authorities are appropriate so that they can spend our tax rands to translate them into all 11 official languages and post them all on the Human Right Commission website for spammers to harvest all our email addresses so that they can send us millions of offers to enlarge sundry body parts.
* Reprinted by permission