Human Rights International
South Africa – working for democracy and human rights

Einsatz für Demokratie und Menschenrechte
The Helen Suzman Foundation at the Constitutional Court, the highest court of South Africa. © FNF

Corruption is not only a significant barrier to Africa’s political, economic and social development; it is also a common cause of human rights abuses. For this reason, the Friedrich Naumann Foundation for Freedom is supporting numerous projects aimed at promoting good governance and rooting out corruption in South Africa.

The projects in cooperation with our long-time partner organisation, the Helen Suzman Foundation (HSF), are particularly noteworthy. Through its work, the HSF focuses on preserving the rule of law and protecting the Constitution.Just like other areas of organised crime, corruption is especially successful when it systematicallyand strategically  subverts or eliminates law enforcement agencies. The effects of this strategy are particularly visible in South Africa. The HSF therefore takes a strategic approach: it uses selected test cases to counteract the white-anting of constitutional institutions, the undermining of the rule of law, and the separation
of powers. It not only takes precedence-setting cases to court, but also ensures that the relevant law enforcement agencies can investigate the matters independently. The cases surrounding the constitutional independence of the Hawks (an anti-corruption unit), of the Independent Police Investigative Directorate (the body overseeing
and controlling the police service) and the Public Prosecutor are good examples.

All these cases have one thing in common: they drag on for many years and demand patience, copious resources and a thick skin from both the HSF and the FNF. However, considering the landmark achievements, these cases are a worthwhile investment: for instance, in the Hawks case, the minister responsible was instructed by the court to dismiss the entity’s compromised and corrupt head with immediate effect. In addition, the HSF also works to protect freedom of speech. With support from the FNF, the HSF won its case against censorship efforts on the part of the public broadcaster, which were intended to favour the governing party, the ANC, in the run-up to elections.