Governance and Public Participation

At the national level, there has been a critical failure on the part of the public service to efficiently and effectively deliver on its mandate, especially in relation to the provision of public goods and services to poor and marginalised communities. Lack of capacity in the public sector has manifested in a number of highly problematic ways. Perhaps the most severe is the apparent inability of the state to perform long-term planning especially in relation to the pressing issue of providing public services. Many communities have engaged in protests to highlight failures of service delivery and growing dissatisfaction and frustration within communities as they struggle to engage an increasingly remote state.

A further significant challenge facing the state is the widespread ‘misuse’ of public resources and growing corruption which had culminated in ‘State Capture’ by 2017.

Public interest legal services organisations have done much to highlight and campaign against corruption, to encourage reporting of corruption and to advocate for mechanisms to discourage it. They have also experienced growing demand for criminal defence services, including bail applications for protesters arrested as a way to silence activists and arrests resulting from the unduly restrictive interpretation of the legislative framework governing protests to prohibit or restrict collective mobilisation through protest. Litigation to secure the independence of corruption-fighting structures within the state has also benefitted from intervention by interested civil society organisations.

Organisations Working in the Space

  • Centre for Applied Legal Studies (CALS)
  • Centre for Environmental Rights (CER)
  • Corruption Watch
  • Lawyers for Human Rights (LHR)
  • ProBono.Org
  • Section 27
  • Freedom of Expression Institute (FXI)
  • Legal Resources Centre (LRC)
  • Socio-Economic Rights Institute of South Africa (SERI)
Directory of PILS Organisations


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