South Africa's evolving civil society landscape : donors and selected civil society organisations : case studies.
One of the central pillars of the new developmental agenda of the 1990s is a vibrant and plural civil society. It has been argued that civil society is not only crucial to safeguarding democracy but to extending democratic space. The absence of democratic accountability has often been cited in explaining poor levels of development in Africa. Given the resource weakness within civil society organisations in many parts of Sub-Saharan Africa many multilateral and bilateral donors have intervened to support and manufacture civil society. While these interventions have been going on little work has gone into theorising the forms of civil society that would broaden democratic space. Donors have largely intervened to implement civil society building programmes that are to their liking. This research paper reviews recent literature. It evaluates the claims and the practice of donor agencies. The paper also identifies key areas of donor interest, the deployment of funding in pursuance of those interests and how these interests are shaping civil society engagement. The paper argues that the structure of funding is acting to exclude certain organisations that may hold the key to ensuring democratic accountability. It also reviews the emerging literature on the ideological changes that have attended the new developmental agenda of the late 1990s and their links with the civil society building process.
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