The Recent Civil Unrest Highlights the Need for NPO’s to Be More Integrated and ProactiveYolandaAD
South Africa experienced a harsh week in July when the building anger, desperation and disappointment of our domestic communities’ historic inequality, poverty and unemployment erupted, bubbling and spitting hot….. It destroyed nearly everything in its path including 161 shopping malls, 11 warehouses, 8 factories, over 40,000 formal businesses, and 50,000 informal traders, costing more than 340 people’s lives and R50 billion in damage. As investor confidence plummeted, many companies considered disinvesting from Kwa-Zulu Natal, and in some cases, from South Africa as a whole.
Although the explosive unrest has shaken and traumatised South Africans, amidst the chaos, hundreds of community members and organisations have rallied to help business owners and communities, often at a much faster pace than government or corporate aid. It is during times like these that we witness what is both depressing and uplifting about our troubled land.
In a country of contradictions, entities that have never worked together suddenly started working together for the good of their communities. Taxi associations protected shopping malls and helped to save the jobs of ordinary South Africans as they worked side by side to rebuild and restore peace. While it is apparent that so much more still needs to be done, it is encouraging to see community members able to organise themselves into teams in record response timeframes.
This demonstration of unified community members has signaled a shift as we witness the rise of South Africa’s most powerful stakeholder. Yet, like most socio-economic challenges in emerging markets, the will to assist might be in abundance but the resources are often limited. Non-profit organisations across the country have therefore focused their efforts towards assisting those that have been heavily and directly impacted by the civil unrest first. This has included generous aid in the form of donations, volunteers, and services, while unaffected impoverished groups have had to wait their turn.
Valuable lessons have been learnt over these past two weeks. The current community clean-ups may be the stepping-stone to delivering real change in poverty, unemployment and inequality at a macro level. Perhaps this is the wake-up call that informed the country of its lack of impactful development? And perhaps non-profit organisations, the government, and corporate SA need to adopt a more proactive integrated approach in their targeted CSI and CSR spend?
What stands between South Africa and another bout of civil unrest may well be an effective and consistent collaboration between the private sectors’ corporate social responsibility efforts, the earnest of non-profit organisations, and the unified leadership of capable communities able to drive systemic change at grassroots level.
About the Author:
Yolanda Gossel is the Founder and Programme Director at Five Tulips, a South African based sustainability and corporate social investment (CSI) consultancy. Five Tulips forges partnerships between communities, public and private sectors and individuals for social upliftment and preservation of our planets resources and ecosystems.
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