NGOs elevate our democracy

South Africans have learnt that democracy isn’t simply a destination that they reached with the formal end of apartheid on April 27, 1994. It is also a lifelong quest to keep up the pressure against corruption, and on elected representatives to deliver on promises.

A significant proportion of political contestation comes from tussling and lobbyists for a variety of single-issue organisations. The environmentalists, for example, take up issues such as the management of radioactive waste; fossil fuel power stations, and air and water pollution. Protests, street marches, and media polemics are all part of this.

Defend our Democracy Campaign is the latest organisation to join a veritable ecosystem of non-governmental organisations (NGOs) that range all the way from Abahlali baseMjondolo Movement (Shack Dwellers’ Movement) to AfriForum. Abahlali focuses on the street-by-street organisation of informal settlement residents to defend their rights and improve their lot. AfriForum is a civil rights organisation that “mobilises Afrikaners, Afrikaans-speaking people and other minority groups in South Africa and protects their rights”.

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