-There is anxiety and uncertainty amongst those affected by the Act

Government has failed to establish and operationalise the Information and Data Protection Commission 10 months later after the commencement of the Act.

This was revealed by Minister for State President Kabo Morwaeng this week when he moved that the Data Protection (Amendment) Bill be proceeded with on certificate of urgency.

Morwaeng stated that the Data Protection Act commenced 10 months ago on the 15th of October 2021. He revealed that the transitional period provided for under Section 54 (1) of the Act lapses on the 15th of October 2022.

“We concede that not enough has been done to establish and operationalise the Information and Data Protection Commission,” the Minster said.

He revealed that the recruitment for the Commissioner has been completed, and they have a Commissioner, but as for recruitment for the Commission, he said it is ongoing.

As a result of the teething problems “we are facing, the Commission is unable to discharge its functions” which include providing guidance and instructions to all persons processing personal data in order for them to comply with the Act.

He said additionally, that as this is a new entity they are starting the process of drafting regulations for the Act to guide its implementation. As a result of there being no regulations in place, the

Information and Data Protection Commissioner is overwhelmed with requests for guidance from different quarters both within Government, the private sector, and Non-Governmental Organisations (NGOs), Morwaeng stated.

He said that as the transitional period draws to an end, there is anxiety and uncertainty amongst those affected by the Act, as to what this means for their business operations, as they are still in the process of bringing their processing activities in line with requirements of the Act.

He said therefore if the Minister is given the authority to extend the transition period, consultations with critical stakeholders will be undertaken to determine the appropriate period of extension required, and the extension will be made through the issuance of a Statutory Instrument.

“The next sitting of Parliament will be in November, and as alluded, the transition period ends on the 15th of October 2022. If we are to wait for the Bill to mature and table it in the November sitting of Parliament, the transition period as prescribed in the Act will have passed.

“I am of the view that it is not the type of business uncertainty that we want our business community to have as a government. Therefore, it is crucial that this Bill be tabled and passed by this House during this session of Parliament,” Morwaeng reasoned.

He pointed out that the Bill has not matured as it was published in the Government Gazette on the 10th of August 2022. Parliament concludes its business on the 19th of August 2022, and if Parliament is to wait for the Bill to mature and for it to be tabled in the next session of Parliament, there will be business uncertainty for data controllers and data processors, according to Morwaeng.

The object of the Bill is to amend the Data Protection Act in order to empower the Minister to prescribe the period within which data controllers and data processors are to comply with the provisions of the Act, provided that such period does not exceed 12 months.