South Africa: Civil Society Must Overcome Its Fault Lines to Transform South Africa


Since 1994, civil society organisations specifically have played an enormous role in the struggle to tackle inequality, defend human rights, advance social justice and protect our democracy from State Capture. However, in this essay, and writing from the perspective of an insider, I ask whether the current organisational methods of civil society are sufficient to bring about deep and lasting transformation in SA. Does civil society need deep introspection? I argue it does.

If there are two names that are known throughout South Africa and have come to symbolise the failure of successive ANC governments in democratic South Africa to deliver social justice and equality, they are Michael Komape and Life Esidimeni.

Michael Komape was the five-year-old black schoolboy whose life ended horribly, drowning in other children's faeces at the bottom of his school pit toilet on 20 January 2014. That was his first and last day at school.

The words Life Esidimeni call up a more complex story, but one of equal horror. The name refers to the 144 mental health care users who were tortured (a description used by former Deputy Chief Justice Dikgang Moseneke) and then died painful and confused deaths as a result of the Gauteng...

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