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Politics & Consciousness: A New Dawn on the Horizon!?


The Cape Town office of the Heinrich Boell Foundation in conversation on the 2019 South African Elections

“While the team had diverse views on the contested areas of South Africa’s political landscape, all agreed that a consolidation of Ramaphosa’s political power now very much depends on his new cabinet. This will not just be determined by his political will alone, but also his ability to manoeuvre through the tricky corridors of the ruling party’s house of cards.”

A View from Below


“…the view from the ground of the 2019 elections does not bode well for South Africa’s constitutional vision of an equal, non-racial society where every person’s human potential can be fulfilled.”

By Niren Tolsi

The People’s Choice: 2019


".....difficult choices are made not in five-year intervals at the voting booth. They are made in day-to-day life. In struggle for a better life. In the picket lines, community halls, classrooms, offices, on social-media timelines and in the streets......"

By Ayabonga Cawe

Economic Tips for the New 6th Parliament


"More than half of the population withdrew their consent in this last election, holding little hope for this system to respond to their crisis in any coherent or meaningful way. Despite the many possible actions that could be taken, the new parliament and the new administration will almost certainly vindicate their choice."

By Luke Jordan

People must continue to strive for democracy


Akpan Hogan Ekpo, Professor of Economics and Public Policy at Uyo University in Nigeria, talks about the state of democracy in South Africa 25 years after the end of apartheid.

The Private Funding of Political Parties: What Do We Know?

Partner Publication

The negative impact of unregulated private funding of political parties in South Africa stretches back to the period prior to the inception of democracy in 1994.  Although on the 23rd of January 2019 President Ramaphosa signed into law the Political Party Funding Act (The Act) that provides for the regular and systematic disclosure of the sources and amounts of private funding allocated to political parties, South Africa's Independent Electoral Commission (IEC) decided to postpone its implementation until after the May elections. In the absence of an effective party funding transparency disclosure regime that enables an informed vote, this research compiled by My Vote Counts (MVC) collates historical and publicly available information on the private funding of political parties through donations and/or other financial transfers.

How Does Eshowe Experience our Democracy Ahead of the Elections?

Partner Analysis

While most political parties are now focusing on the big cities, what do the elections look like from a rural perspective? My Vote Counts spoke to a resident of Eshowe in KwaZulu Natal to hear from him how the Eshowe community experiences South Africa's democracy, if they feel included at all and what they think about elections.

Intra-party Democracy: How Democratic Are South Africa's Political Parties?

Partner Publication

South Africa is one of the many modern constitutional democracies where the internal organisation of political parties is not regulated according to internal party democracy or intra-party democracy (IPD) provisions. Consequently, over centralisation and the abuse of power within the country's political parties is a systemic problem, and one which has significant ramifications for democracy both during elections, as well as between them. This original research by My Vote Counts (MVC) sheds light on parties' processes and policies and aims to inform future decision making on the subject.

By My Vote Counts

South Africa's Political Parties Through a Feminist Lens

Partner Analysis

Using an intersectional feminist framework, the Women and Democracy Initiative (WDI) analysed both the manifestos and track records of the country's three leading parties, alongside that of Women Forward (WF), a small women-led party contesting the elections for the second time. The analysis considers not only what these parties say on issues commonly labeled as ‘women’s', but also applies a feminist lens to the parties approaches to unemployment, wages, land and home ownership, social security, education and health. Grandstanding on gender during elections is the norm, with parties often taking the over-promise and underdeliver route. This analysis can serve as a feminist barometer on how parties act on these promises after elections.

By Women and Democracy Initiative, Dullah Omar Institute

They Killed Dulcie – Episode 5: The Arms Money Machine

Partner News

The fifth episode in an 8 part podcast series investigating Dulcie September’s life and assassination. For almost two decades starting in the 1970s, the South African embassy in Paris was the centre of a large-scale sanctions busting operation. It was connected to the arms dealers, spies and banks that formed part of the arms money machine. In episode five of They Killed Dulcie, we find out if this top secret operation was connected to the murder of Dulcie September.

April 2019 Household Affordability Index

Partner Publication

April's Household Affordability Index finds that government's decision to introduce zero-ratings (VAT exclusions) on basic products has had no impact on the food baskets of struggling South African households.

Apartheid’s banks no closer to facing justice

Partner Op-Ed

Without the help of European banks, the apartheid government would not have been able to buy arms and continue its campaign of violence and oppression. Between 1977 and 1994, countless people lost their lives while the banks essentially profited from their deaths. What can be done to hold the banks accountable for their role in supporting apartheid? For the past 12 months, HBF partner Open Secrets and CALS have pursued justice in Europe, only to find that some of these banks have infiltrated the very mechanisms meant to investigate them.

By Lee-Anne Bruce, Tabitha Paine

What we do

Inequality, poverty and the failure to deliver quality public services such as health and education threaten to undo democratic gains in the region.  In response, the Democracy & Social Justice programme seeks to strengthen the political voice of marginalised groups advocating for socio-economic rights and the equitable use of state resources to address injustice.

The programme supports citizen groups’ engagement with policy, analysis of budgets and social audits.  It also supports citizen networks and network building that seek to build public ownership of democratic institutions, and hold them to account for their role in building a just society. The programme specifically targets social movements and membership based organisations.

As feminism is a central tenet of all HBF programmes, this programme works towards the vision of a society and institutions which actively respond to – and attempt to correct – the political and socio-economic realities of gender inequality.