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This resource is hosted by the Nelson Mandela Centre of Memory, but was compiled and authored by Padraig O’Malley. It is the product of almost two decades of research and includes analyses, chronologies, historical documents, and interviews from the apartheid and post-apartheid eras.

Thabo Mbeki on NGOs & foreign donors

In an address to the national assembly in 2005, President Mbeki raised questions regarding the agendas NGOs in SA pursued, the degree to which NGOs relied on foreign donors, the agendas of foreign donors and the international between the three. The essence of the arguments he advance was that for the mist part foreign donors are from the west and their missions embody western cultural, and political values. These, he observed, might not always approximate with African values and political values. Hence he believed that it was a fair question to ask whether the agendas NGOs pursued in SA were in the best interests of their donors or of SA. Their criticisms, therefore or the transformation process should be examined in the same light. In one exposition of his views he concluded,: 'it will be recalled that one of the NGOs in South Africa, it must have been around 1999, appealed for funds from abroad on the basis that once Nelson Mandela left and Thabo Mbeki took over as president, human rights were going to be challenged, and therefore, they had to get the money to fight for the protection of human rights. They wouldn't say they were operating in a political vacuum. I think all of us have particular purposes that we pursue.' Thabo Mbeki, 'Foreign Funding and donor agendas tax NGOs as much as the government," Cape Times 15 November 2005. His remarks on NGOs were made in the context of criticisms by a number of NGOs of the way in which SA was going to submit itself to review under the African Peer Review Mechanism (APRM), a key part of the New Partnership for Africa's Development (NEPAD) process being conducted throughout the continent by the African Union (AU). The government appointed Geraldine Frazer Molakati, Minister of the Public Service and Administration to head SA's review. Some NGOs responded that this was a case of the government heading a process to examine its own performance that it wanted to use civil society organizations on a selective to authenticate a review of self congratulation. Many voiced anger at being excluded from the process. In SA the review will be conducted under the aegis of a ministry, unlike Ghana, for example, which had a number of independent think thanks to conduct its review. Ironic, of course, that foreign funded NGOs were a powerful component fostering the growth of organs of civil society that were a part of the mass democratic movement in the 1980s. Southern Africa Report 20 September 2005

See also, William MacLean, 'Changing Africa's face to suit western ideals,' and Reuters, 'array of global NGOs serve continent's needs,' Business Day 19 October 2005

This resource is hosted by the Nelson Mandela Centre of Memory, but was compiled and authored by Padraig O’Malley. Return to the Nelson Mandela Centre of Memory site.