The profound transformation that followed the end of the apartheid era brought enhanced political and social rights for South Africans, but for the majority this has yet to translate into a better quality of life. Many continue to struggle for dignity and a decent life in the context of extreme and growing inequality.
Through our partners, we help marginalised communities to understand and claim their rights, and fight for the change that will benefit many hundreds of thousands at a national level. But there is no quick fix. It will involve long-term advocacy and campaigning, to invest in a future that is equal for all.
To increase our impact, Christian Aid is joining Norwegian Church Aid, Church of Sweden, Brot fuer die Welt and South African partners, to improve joint working on economic, gender and environmental justice. Together we are working towards creating a new joint model in the country.
Our areas of expertise
Monitoring corporate and government behaviour
Our partner BenchMarks Foundation (BMF) is a leader in the field of community monitoring on mining in South Africa and Africa. Community monitoring is used in conjunction with in-depth environmental and health impact studies of mining activities to hold corporations to account.
The community monitoring school also assist organisations across the continent to build their own monitoring programmes. It has done so successfully in Zimbabwe, Zambia, Tanzania, Kenya, and Mozambique, and will do soon in Swaziland, Lesotho and the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC).
Our partner Studies in Poverty and Inequality Institute (SPII) researches and monitors the implementation of Socio-economic human rights in the South African constitution.
Economic justice: social protection scheme
We are supporting initiatives to increase fiscal revenue from the extractive industries, other sectors of industry and the very rich. This additional income would be spent on improved social services and a better, protected social grant system.
One of these is the promotion of a Decent Living Wage and building a clear case for a basic income grant in South and Southern Africa.
Our tax work with the government of South Africa and others in Southern Africa is overarching. We are seeking to influence the government’s position and agenda with regard to country-by-country reporting and transparency.
If this leads to the South African government influencing global tax rules then this will mean greater transparency and accountability of the extractive industry in South Africa, and our partners are working on integrating tax justice with the advocacy work around extractives.
Solidarity platforms: enabling a strong movement
At the centre of our new model is the convening of a space for learning and discerning new ways of supporting struggles for justice, and for exploring alternative models for development. With this we are hoping to connect in-country thought leadership, with solid research, national and regional advocacy with close links with marginalised communities.
- To enable a strong and vibrant movement of poor peoples’ organisations who are claiming their rights to a dignified life.
- Enable communities in South Africa to successfully hold government and/or private sector to account on economic justice/inequality and human rights.
- To help build a new joint operating model with three European ACT allies (Norwegian Church Aid, Brot fuer die Welt, and the Church of Sweden). This will involve the active participation of local partners, to provide better support to civil society to challenge inequality in the three pillars of work: economic, gender and environmental injustice. Jointly we wish to define a new way of working in solidarity as equal partners.
Campaigning for change
Christian Aid's partner - Studies in Poverty and Inequality Institute (SPII) - works with both the government and civil society, to battle the extraordinarily high levels of poverty and inequality in South Africa. This work is backed up by solid research on socio-economic human rights.
SPII was behind a successful campaign to reduce the old age pension qualifying age from 65 to 60, benefiting millions of people. We were also prominent in the advocacy leading to a 2017 announcement of the introduction of a national minimum wage for the first time in the country’s history.
The Economic Justice Network (EJN), of which we are a part, played a central role in supporting the South African government to set up an inter-governmental body on tax, which will help to combat illicit financial flows out of Africa.
BenchMarks Foundation (BMF) is mandated by the churches to monitor multinational corporations in South Africa and the region to ensure they respect human rights and the environment. They ensure affected communities are heard, protected and considered within the business plans of big companies.
BMF has made important recent advances in pressuring mining companies to make their secretive environmental impact assessments, social and labour plans more widely available to the public.
BMF and EJN are central partners in growing the Alternative Mining Indaba (AMI) – now with over 500 participants - as an alternative platform to the corporate mining indaba, it gives mining-affect communities a voice, and the corporate event is increasingly aware of its presence, and directly responds to themes raised at the AMI.
Christian Aid partner BenchMarks Foundation (BMF) is monitoring the impact of mining on communities, ensuring they are heard, protected and considered within the business plans of big companies.
Christian Aid partner AIDS Consortium is one of South Africa’s largest NGO networks, serving over 200 members in the HIV, AIDS and human rights sectors. It was instrumental in developing the country’s HIV and AIDS Charter, which has stood the test of time as the founding guide in fighting stigma and discrimination.
Access to services
Church Land Programme (CLP) supported shack dwellers, including the Abahlali base Mjondolo movement, in their struggle for land, rights and dignity. Together they have secured increased access to electricity, water and health facilities
A community supported by the Church Land Programme (CLP)