An alliance of civil society‚ church‚ trade union and academic organisations met on Wednesday to outline a campaign ‘to reclaim our hard-won democracy from those who defile it for self-interest’.
In honour of that Sunday Times released a list of 10 civil society groups that have helped change the course of South African history over the weekend.
1) Treatment Action Campaign:
HIV/AIDS activist organisation credited with forcing the government of President Thabo Mbeki to begin making antiretroviral drugs available to South Africans.
2) Social Justice Coalition:
Its first key victories were the implementation of a janitorial service for flush toilets for informal settlements and several successful social audits into sanitation services. Its local government programme works on sanitation‚ budgets and urban land‚ while its safety and justice programme focuses on policing and the criminal justice system.
3) Masifundise Development Trust:
Led the campaign to secure rights for small-scale fishermen. In 2007‚ the Minister for Fisheries signed an agreement with Masifundise and Coastal Links that obliged the government to develop a new fisheries policy that accommodates the social and economic rights of the 30‚000 small-scale fisher people and their families.
4) SA Council of Churches:
Interdenominational forum was a prominent anti-apartheid organisation. Its leaders have included Desmond Tutu‚ Beyers Naudé and Frank Chikane. Its headquarters at Khotso House in Johannesburg were destroyed by a bomb in 1988 that was personally ordered by President PW Botha.
5) Equal Education:
Works for quality and equality in education. After successfully campaigning for legally binding minimum norms and standards for school infrastructure‚ it is working to ensure that infrastructure regulations address the need for a safe and functional learning environment in public schools.
6) Centre for Environmental Rights:
Holds government and industry to their obligations under environmental legislation‚ and tracks environmental public interest litigation. Operates national environmental crimes and incidents hotline.
7) Sex Workers Education and Advocacy Taskforce (SWEAT):
Supports sex workers to access their human rights while campaigning for the decriminalisation of sex work.
8) Black Sash:
Founded in 1955 as a non-violent white women’s resistance organization. Fought apartheid in numerous ways and regrouped in 1995 as a non-racial humanitarian organisation‚ working to make human rights real for all living in South Africa.
9) Organisation Uniting against Tax Abuse (previously Opposition to Urban Tolling Alliance):
Formed to fight tolling associated with the Gauteng Freeway Improvement Project‚ now broadening its remit to‚ among other things‚ opposing Eskom price hikes.
10) Abahlali baseMjondolo:
Shack-dwellers’ movement that grew out of a road blockade organised from the Kennedy Road shack settlement in the city of Durban in early 2005. Campaigns to improve the living conditions of poor people. Its key demand is that the social value of urban land should take priority over its commercial value.