In our view

The continued role of civil society - Inyathelo Autumn Academy, 16 May 2012

Closing remarks by Inyathelo Executive Director Shelagh Gastrow at the Inyathelo Autumn Academy in May 2012.

In 2007, when discussing support for human rights organisations, South Africans would have focussed on those involved in second and third generation rights as there was a strong belief that basic human rights as outlined in our constitution were secure. However, recent events have dispelled this myth. In November 2007 Polokwane took place and since then we have seen attempts at erosion of our basic civil rights. We are also going through a period with little decision making taking place and a major shift in philosophy relating to the definition of our democracy. We are currently seeing an erosion of confidence that our constitutional democracy is secure as sustained attacks on the judiciary, the constitutional court and the press are taking place.

Skilling the non-profit sector - MAIL & GUARDIAN, Supplement A 26 Apr 2012

South African Civil Society has reached a crossroads. Non-profit organisations are facing a serious funding crisis. Many have been forced to close their doors and others have had to cut back on the often essential welfare services they provide. It is the kind of crisis that has the potential to threaten South Africa's young democracy and affect the capacity of poor communities to access education, health facilities and other basic services. In part, these funding shortages are the result of the global recession that began in 2008 and has resulted in international donors cutting back on international giving.

Code of governance will help sustain civil society - 25 Apr 2012 BUSINESS REPORT (Star)

The financial collapse and cutbacks facing many leading civil society organisations have exposed an inherent weakness in South Africa’s non-profit sector.

Not only are we too reliant on funds and donations from overseas but we also don’t have an agreed set of values, standards and principles to ensure that our valuable and limited resources are well-managed.

Although the principles of good governance are broadly the same in all entities, whether they are multinational listed companies or small non-profit community-based organisations, the manner in which these principles are applied and the cost and practicality of their application differs considerably. This is why the non-profit sector in South Africa needs to agree on, and commit to, its own independent code of governance.

NPOs need own code of governance - MAIL & GUARDIAN 30 Mar 2012

To self-regulate or risk being regulated by government and business — that is the reality facing the nonprofit sector in South Africa. Non-profit organisations (NP0s) around the world are under pressure to be more accountable and maintain public trust in the face of scrutiny from governments, the media and citizens. It is important to move fast on this issue if we do not want a code that does not adequately reflect our values.

Already, attempts have been made to make the sector comply with the King III code, despite that it relates to the corporate sector and is impractical, unaffordable and unattainable for many non-profits. King III also does not address the rights and interests of various distinct constituencies, such as social beneficiaries and donors, and it does not give adequate recognition to the particular realities and challenges with which non-profits must contend, such as that board members usually serve without remuneration.

Dear Mr Cronin, take a hard look at your own party before slamming NGOs - 07 Feb 2012 CAPE TIMES

By Shelagh Gastrow

ACCORDING to Jeremy Cronin ("State and civil society can join sides," Insight, January 30), those of us working for non-profit organisations have been hoodwinked by a liberalist, neo-liberal socio-political economic ideology! Instead of contributing to a stronger democracy as we had thought, the deputy general secretary of the SA Communist Party argues that civil society sees itself as a "realm standing outside of the state", placing itself onto the terrain of liberalism where the state is viewed as a necessary evil, and civil society as the realm of freedom.