As a regional power, South Africa is not only a key actor in southern Africa and on the African continent - together with the emerging economies of Brazil, India, China and Russia (the BRIC states), it is also an important player on the international stage. Throughout the world, South Africa is considered to be a positive example of peaceful transition from an unjust regime to a democracy. The country has made tremendous progress in consolidating these achievements since its first democratic elections in 1994.
Nevertheless, political, economic and social transformation remains difficult: deficits in governance and close ties between the political arena and business promotes patronage and corruption. The majority black population bears the brunt of high disparities in prosperity, social injustice and mass unemployment. Women and young people are especially hard hit. At the same time, the former liberation movement, the African National Congress (ANC), which has been ruling the country in an alliance with the trade unions and the Communist Party since 1994, is torn apart by internal power struggles. This has increasingly raised the question as to how democratically this party, which will probably continue to dominate the party landscape in the foreseeable future, will seek to find solutions to the country's massive internal and external problems.
Together with its partners in South Africa, the Friedrich-Ebert-Stiftung (FES) has been endeavouring since the 1980s to make a contribution to the democratic transformation process by fostering the public dialogue on democracy, a sustainable social market economy and responsible foreign policy. It is to this end that it works on issues like good governance, gender equality, the development state, alternative sustainable economic models, a more just distribution of income and labour market as well as climate and energy policy. An additional topical area is the foreign policy role of South Africa. Target groups for FES activities are decision-makers, officeholders and multipliers in the areas of civil society, politics and the trade unions.
The FES Trade Union Competence Centre for Sub-Saharan Africa is also located in Johannesburg, where it works to strengthen the role of trade unions.
Learn more about our work in South Africa on the project's website.