22 Aug Civil society and government – can they work together?
Posted at 16:29h in Media and News
In South Africa there is clearly no concept of civil society engaging with government on its policy, practice and accountability. It seems as though although the term nonprofit is used, our government still views civil society organisations through a charitable lens. Yet, increasingly, we are seeing government departments approaching nonprofit organisations and the private philanthropy sector for assistance.
This August the UK government produced a Civil Society Strategy with the strapline Building a future that works for everyone. There have been a range of responses, both negative and positive, but it is clear that the UK government is seeking help and partnerships when it comes to “charities’ role in public services”.
In the UK all nonprofit organisations that provide community services are called “charities”, a term that is not frequently used in South Africa with good reason. The concept of charity implies simply providing services to the poor, the homeless, orphans, the destitute and the abandoned, particularly through voluntarism. As a result, such organisations are treated accordingly as objects of charity with expectations of having to beg for money from the public to attain their objectives.