South Africa: Anti-Apartheid NGOs in Transition

  • Adam Habib
  • Rupert Taylor


Under apartheid, there were an ever-increasing number of nongovernmental organizations (NGOs) concerned about challenging the South African state and furthering a nonracial democratic society. In the 1990s, with the transition to an African National Congress-led democratic government, these organizations underwent profound changes. This article describes the key dynamics of this process, outlines the challenges currently confronting the new NGO sector, and concludes that the prospects for progressive NGO work in dealing with the poor and marginalized are constrained by the prevailing neoliberal economic climate.

nongovernmental organizations nonprofit sector political transition South Africa 


Unable to display preview. Download preview PDF.

Unable to display preview. Download preview PDF.


  1. Advisory Committee (1997). Structural Relationships between Government and Civil Society Organisations, Report prepared for the Deputy President, Thabo Mbeki, South Africa.Google Scholar
  2. Ashley, B., and Andrews, M. (1998, June 28). Warning: Handle with extreme caution. Reconstruct (supplement to The Sunday Independent [Johannesburg]), No. 17.Google Scholar
  3. Bernstein, A. (1994). NGO's and a democratic South Africa. Development and Democracy, 7, 55-66.Google Scholar
  4. Budlender, G. (1993). Overview: The legal and fiscal environment of voluntary organisations in South Africa. In A. M. Micon and B. Lindsnaes (eds.), The Role of Voluntary Organisations in Emerging Democracies: Experience and Strategies in Eastern and Central Europe and in South Africa, Danish Centre for Human Rights and Institute of International Education, New York, 85-91.Google Scholar
  5. CASE (Community Agency for Social Enquiry) (1996). Tango in the Dark: Government and Voluntary Sector Partnerships in the New South Africa, Johannesburg.Google Scholar
  6. Clayton, A. (ed.), (1996). NGOs, Civil Society and the State: Building Democracy in Transitional Societies, INTRAC, Oxford.Google Scholar
  7. Currin, B. (1993). Summing up: Civil society organisations in emerging democracies. In A. M. Micon and B. Lindsnaes (eds.), The Role of Voluntary Organisations in Emerging Democracies: Experience and Strategies in Eastern and Central Europe and in South Africa, Danish Centre for Human Rights and Institute of International Education, New York, 165-170.Google Scholar
  8. Habib, A. (1997a). From pluralism to corporatism: South Africa's labour relations in transition. Politikon, 24(1), 57-75.Google Scholar
  9. Habib, A. (1997b). South Africa—the rainbow nation and prospects for consolidating democracy. African Journal of Political Science, 2(1), 15-26.Google Scholar
  10. Habib, A., and Owusu-Ampomah, K. (1997). Report on the Institute for Democracy in South Africa (Idasa). Report prepared for the International Study of Peace Organizations—South Africa.Google Scholar
  11. Hamber, B., Mofokeng, T., and Simpson, G. (1997, November 10). Evaluating the role and function of civil society in a changing South Africa: The Truth and Reconciliation Commission as a case study. Paper presented at The Role of Southern Civil Organisations in the Promotion of Peace seminar, Catholic Institute for International Relations, London.Google Scholar
  12. Hellmann, E. (1979). Fifty years of the South African Institute of Race Relations. In E. Hellmann and H. Lever (eds.), Conflict and Progress: Fifty Years of Race Relations in South Africa, Macmillan, Johannesburg.Google Scholar
  13. Jaster, R., and Jaster, S. (1993). South Africa's Other Whites: Voices for Change, Macmillan, London.Google Scholar
  14. Kane-Berman, J. (1996). Leave well alone: The role of NGOs in the process of democratization. In H. Kotzé (ed.), Consolidating Democracy: What Role for Civil Society in South Africa? University of Stellenbosch and Konrad-Adenauer-Stiftung.Google Scholar
  15. Korten, D. C. (1987). Third generation NGO strategies: A key to people-centred development. World Development, 15, 145-159.Google Scholar
  16. Kraak, G. (1995). An INTERFUND briefing on development, education and training in South Africa in 1994/5. Development Update, Johannesburg.Google Scholar
  17. Kraak, G. (1996). An INTERFUND briefing on development and the voluntary sector in South Africa in 1995/96. Development Update, Johannesburg.Google Scholar
  18. Lazerson, J. (1994). Against the Tide: Whites in the Struggle Against Apartheid, Westview, Boulder, Colorado.Google Scholar
  19. Lee, R., and Buntman, F. (1989). The Future of the NonProfit Voluntary Sector in South Africa, Research Report No. 5, Centre for Policy Studies, Johannesburg.Google Scholar
  20. Mandela, N. (1996). Message from President Mandela on the occasion of NGO week, 2–6 December, Rand Afrikaans University, Johannesburg.Google Scholar
  21. Mandela, N. (1997). Political Report of the President, Nelson Mandela, to the 50th National Conference of the African National Congress, Mafikeng, 16 December.Google Scholar
  22. Marais, H. (1998). South Africa, Limits to Change: The Political Economy of Transformation, Zed, London.Google Scholar
  23. Marks, S. (1998). Social change, order and stability in the new South Africa. In F. H. Toase and E. J. Yorke (eds.), The New South Africa: Prospects for Domestic and International Security, Macmillan, London, 17-36.Google Scholar
  24. Naidoo, K. (1997). South African NGOs: The Path Ahead, CIIR, London.Google Scholar
  25. Petras, J. (1997). Imperialism and NGOs in Latin America, Monthly Review, 49(7), 10-27.Google Scholar
  26. Pilger, J. (1998). Apartheid Did Not Die. British television documentary.Google Scholar
  27. Price, M. (1995). Some reflections on the changing role of progressive policy groups in South Africa: Experiences from the Centre of Health Policy. Transformation, 27, 24-34.Google Scholar
  28. Southall, R., and Wood, G. (1998). Political party funding in Southern Africa. In P. Burnell and A. Ware (eds.), Funding Democratization, Manchester University Press, Manchester, 202-228.Google Scholar
  29. Spink, K. (1991). Black Sash: The Beginning of a Bridge for South Africa, Methuen, London.Google Scholar
  30. Taylor, R., Egan, A., Habib, A., Cock, J., Lekwane, A., and Shaw, M. (1998, July 8–11). Final report: International study of peace organizations—South Africa. Presented to the 3rd International Conference of the International Society for Third Sector Research, University of Geneva.Google Scholar
  31. Taylor, R., Cock, J., and Habib, A. (1999). Projecting peace in apartheid South Africa. Peace & Change, 24(1), 1-14.Google Scholar
  32. Turok, B. (1996). Why are NGOs struggling? Mail & Guardian [Johannesburg], Nov. 29–Dec, 5.Google Scholar
  33. Walters, S. (1993). Continuity and change in community organisations: Trends in Greater Cape Town from 1989 to 1991. CORE Working Paper No. 1, University of the Western Cape.Google Scholar

Copyright information

© International Society for Third-Sector Research and The Johns Hopkins University 1999

Authors and Affiliations

  • Adam Habib
    • 1
  • Rupert Taylor
    • 2
  1. 1.Department of Political ScienceUniversity of Durban-WestvilleDurbanSouth Africa
  2. 2.Department of Political StudiesUniversity of the WitwatersrandWits, JohannesburgSouth Africa

Personalised recommendations