In our view

Time to channel our inherent power in rebuilding civil society for a better SA - Cape Times - 05 August 2015

By Nozizwe Madlala-Routledge, Inyathelo Executive Director

Nozizwe Madlala-Routledge

The late Nelson Mandela repeatedly acknowledged the critical role civil society played in securing South Africa's democracy During and after his term as the country's first black, democratically elected president, he continued to stress the vital and ongoing need for a strong and independent sector - which filled the spaces between the state, market and family - to protect the rights of all citizens and hold government to account.

And yet, civil society organisations are facing unprecedented challenges to their existence in our maturing democratic society Like- wise, independent state institutions established to defend our democracy like the Human Rights Commission, the Commission for Gender Equality, the Public Protector and the Auditor-General appear weakened and vulnerable as we enter our third decade of freedom. Government support has decreased, interna- tional donor funding is no longer secure and there is a continuous drain on the leadership pool.

Where is corporate South Africa in a crisis? - 20 April 2015

By Shelagh Gastrow

shelagh dm 20apr2015Last week I attended Tshikululu’s annual Serious Social Investment Conference, which was populated by business school people, CSI practitioners and civil society representatives. The theme was leadership. There we all were, comfortably fed and seated in the GIBS conference centre, while outside refugees and migrants were being hammered by our fellow citizens.

The question of xenophobia and violence and the role of business hardly punctuated the proceedings. We explored leadership, the role of CSI, the importance of voluntarism and how to popularise CSI within our businesses. There were some outstanding inputs – Brand Pretorius on leadership, Vincent Maphai on the role of business in developing policy and Isaac Shongwe on defining new roles and expectations of leaders. Shongwe, who had worked with Barlowrand, reminded us very briefly of the leading role business played in the transition to democracy and the National Peace Accord, yet business has so little role to play currently while it focuses on development rather then transformation.

What can we learn from philanthropic mistakes? - 09 April 2015 - Daily Maverick

By Shelagh Gastrow

dm 09 04 2015Philanthropists are human beings and they make mistakes. Generally they don’t like to admit their mistakes and, even worse, they do not want their mistakes making headlines. Taking into account that philanthropic money is private, whether it is an individual’s own personal resources or funds from a private foundation, responsibility for mistakes is usually only recognised in-house. So what can we learn when mistakes loom large?

Philanthropic funding requires significant levels of trust – essentially, a person or a foundation hands over money to another entity to deliver certain outcomes. Good donor practice usually requires that donors know where their role ends and where the recipient’s starts. They generally don’t get involved in grantee operations, but rely on trust and confidence in the recipient’s ability to deliver what they have promised. However, despite undertaking due diligence checks, things do go wrong and usually people are too embarrassed to admit these failures.

Can government simply deregister outspoken non-profits? - 24 March 2015 - Daily Maverick


By Shelagh Gastrow

Following the “Fire Benny” campaign run by the Treatment Action Campaign (TAC) in the Free State - where it called for the dismissal of the province’s Health MEC, Benny Malakoane - the ANC Youth League, the Women’s League and others in the Free State called for the de-registration of the Treatment Action Campaign, claiming it was being used “as a political party instead of a non-profit organisation.”

There appears to be a distinct lack of political education about our Constitution within the ruling party. And there also appear to be disturbing and ongoing threats to independent organisations who speak out against the ANC.

Impact investing: Can it change the world? - 17 March 2015 - Daily Maverick

shelagh dm 17mar2015By Shelagh Gastrow

I recently visited a company in Cape Town that can be termed a social enterprise. It produces quick diagnostic tools for African diseases. It employs 20 PhDs and 200 other staff. It is looking for partners, investors and funders so it can continue to offer medical diagnostic services that are quick and inexpensive to the continent, as well as employ local graduates and create a centre of excellence in Africa. For those who want to make a social impact, but also want some return on their financial investment, this company makes a perfect case for 'impact investing’.

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