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A Beacon of Inspiration on the African Continent

The Privacy Symposium Africa 2023 Edition included a special tribute.
This tribute celebrated the exceptional contributions and extraordinary achievements of Adv. Pansy Tlakula, the revered Chairperson of the Information Regulator of South Africa.

Adv. Tlakula’s illustrious career, distinguished by an exemplary educational journey that includes degrees from esteemed institutions like the University of Limpopo, University of the Witwatersrand, and Harvard University, was recognized.

Her unwavering dedication to legal studies culminated in a Doctorate in Legal Studies (Honoris Causa) bestowed upon her by the Vaal University of Technology.

Over the years, Adv. Tlakula has held pivotal roles, laying the foundation for the South African Human Rights Commission and steering the ship as the Chief Electoral Officer of the Electoral Commission of South Africa. Her leadership journey continued with her appointment as the Chairperson of the IEC, showcasing an unyielding commitment to democracy and human rights.

Remarkably, Adv. Tlakula’s influence transcended South African borders, securing her position as a member of the African Commission on Human and Peoples’ Rights. During her tenure, she played a pivotal role in the creation and adoption of the Model Law on Access to Information in Africa, significantly propelling access to information legislation across the continent.

In December 2016, Adv. Tlakula assumed the pivotal role of Chairperson of the Information Regulator of South Africa, shepherding its establishment and nurturing it into a fully functional entity. The Regulator’s commendable efforts include issuing crucial Guidelines and Guidance notes to ensure adherence to the Protection of Personal Information Act (POPIA).

Adv. Tlakula’s extensive experience in electoral matters has left an indelible mark on electoral legislation and processes, embedding data protection principles and the right of access to information at their very core. Her advocacy efforts led to critical amendments in electoral law and the Promotion of Access to Information Act, expanding transparency and accountability.

Notably, the Regulator’s enforcement powers took effect in July 2021, resulting in the issuance of significant Enforcement Notices and a historic administrative fine against the Department of Justice and Correctional Services.

In her second term, Adv. Tlakula and the Members of the Regulator have emphasized community engagement, recognizing privacy as an integral facet of human dignity.

The Information Regulator’s expansive network encompasses the Network of African Data Protection Authorities and the Global Privacy Assembly, underscoring its commitment to global collaboration in the realm of data protection.

The 5th Privacy Symposium Africa served as a platform to celebrate the extraordinary accomplishments of Adv. Pansy Tlakula. Her tireless dedication to privacy, human rights, and the advancement of data protection principles was lauded, making her a beacon of inspiration on the African Continent.