Africa Department

South Africa

As a member of the G20 and the wider BRICS state group, South Africa plays a key role in North-South relations and, despite recent differences over Russia's war of aggression against Ukraine and the Middle East conflict, is an important partner for Germany and Europe in their commitment to democracy, human rights and a rules-based world order. Domestically, the country faces enormous challenges, with extremely high levels of inequality and unemployment, as well as inadequate public services, particularly in energy supply. The state's capacity to respond to the socio-economic crisis is severely limited due to escalating corruption and mismanagement under President Zuma (2009-2018). The African National Congress (ANC), which has been in power since the first free elections in 1994, is struggling to overcome these problems and bring about its own much-needed renewal. In view of the consequences of state capture and the deep socio-economic crisis, not only is support for the ANC dwindling, but also confidence in democracy in general.

In this context, the FES in South Africa is working with allies within the ANC, with trade unions, with activists (particularly young people) outside of political parties and with progressive think tanks on three main areas:

1) Renewal and political participation: Support for civic engagement, including outside of political parties, particularly among young people; dialogue on feminist renewal, ANC and trade union renewal and political culture for successful coalition governments; support for organizing and trade union representation of precarious workers.

2) Progressive economic and social policy: in particular research and campaigning on basic social protection and support for trade unions in shaping a socially just energy transition and comprehensive transformation.

3) The future of multilateralism and internationalism: broadening the debate on foreign policy, in particular involving young people and trade unions; promoting international dialogue between parties, trade unions and activists to strengthen progressive internationalism and developing a common agenda to reform and strengthen multilateralism.

To do this, the FES builds on trust that has developed over decades. Since the late 1970s, the FES has supported South African trade unions and the ANC office in exile in Bonn. Since the early 1990s, the FES has been represented by an office in South Africa and in 2022 opened the "Lindiwe Mabuza Space" on its campus as a new events venue. 

Find out more about our work in South Africa on the national project website.

The FES Trade Union Competence Centre (TUCC) for Sub-Saharan Africa is also based in Johannesburg.


Meždu principami i pragmatizmom

vzgljad na Ukrainskij krizis iz Brazilii, Indii, Kitaja, JuAR
Berlin, 2015

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Between principles and pragmatism

perspectives on the Ukraine crisis from Brazil, India, China and South Africa
Berlin, 2015

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Grassi, Sergio

BRICS in Afrika

Chance für den Kontinent und "G-South" auf internationaler Ebene?
Berlin, 2015

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Tenbusch, Renate

20 anos de democracia na Africa do Sul: um país em crise

mesmo assim o ANC ganhará novamente as eleições em maio e o motivo é basicamente um só...
SãoPaulo, 2014

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African media barometer

the first home grown analysis of the media landscape in Africa ; South Africa 2013
Windhoek, 2013

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Africa Department

Contact in Germany

Britta Utz

Hiroshimastr. 17
10785 Berlin

+49 30-269 35-74 34


Contact in South Africa

South Africa Office

Uta Dirksen
Sebastian Sperling
P.O. Box 41 26 64
ZA 2024 Craighall Park/Johannesburg
South Africa

Tel: +27-113 41 02 70

Fax: +27-113 41 02 71


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