South Africa: Philanthropy and Civil Society - Massive Funding Needed to Support Human Rights Work


SA's democratic project owes a debt of gratitude to its civil society and independent media sectors. However, civil society in SA is in a funding crisis. In the following, I argue why it is imperative that a long-term sustainable and wholly domestic fund be established to support their critical work.

Funding shortages for human rights and independent media work is not a new phenomenon. "Finding funding" is something we dealt with under the anti-apartheid years and in the first two decades of our democracy. However, during 1994-2004, the government and civil society organisations were mostly the "developing world darlings" of multilateral and individual donors and funders, occasioned in part by the deadly AIDS denialism of the Mbeki administration and the work generated by the adoption of a new and quite radical Constitution, which is premised on "rights protections" for everyone.

Now, we are no longer the darlings for various reasons - fewer donors and multilateral agencies are funding in South Africa now than in 1994, because even with income disparities being the highest in the world, we remain oddly classified as a "middle-income country" (MIC) and donors have either wound down their work in South Africa or recently, moved their...

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