Civil Society in a Failed State: BftW Partners Meeting

ToonZA was invited to join the Brot für die Welt (Bread for the world) partner consultation to illustrate the discussions and outcomes of the conference in cartoon form.

BftW supports local organizations in more than 90 countries all over the world in their work for social justice, equality and human rights. In South Africa they have a large portfolio of 47 partners, who do great work in accompanying and mobilizing communities in their fights for justice. Besides ACT Ubumbano, some of their partners include the Legal Resource Centre, Khanya College, Alternative Information and Development Centre, Institute for Justice and Reconciliation, Trust for Community Outreach and Education, Women on Farms, African Centre for Biodiversity, Benchmarks Foundation,, Institute for the Healing of Memories, Yetu Initiative and many more.

Every couple of years BfdW organizes a partner consultation in South Africa, where all of their partners come together, reflect and exchange experiences and discuss points of common interest and concern. The partner portfolio is very diverse, from small organizations working in a rural area to large organizations working nationally, from long-term partners of BfdW to very new partners, from their areas of work to their approaches etc.

The main theme that guided the discussions and inputs was “Civil society in a failing state”. In a context where the situation in South Africa only seems to get worse with the social fabric collapsing, space for civil society shrinking and staff from organizations as well as activists being threatened and/or burnt out and 30 years after the end of apartheid civil society is still battling government in the interest of the people, what is the role and purpose of civil society in South Africa in 2023 and beyond? Which changes does civil society need to make? How can civil society go from critiquing to reconstructing? What are the states of their organizational (and personal) souls? What are the best practices, and what keeps them going?