Who is standing up for human rights in South Africa?

When Americans want to fight back against Donald Trump, they turn to the ACLU. Where do South Africans turn, after events like the disastrous #SONA2017?

The weekend after Donald Trump enacted a sudden ban on travel and immigration from several countries, the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) received $24,164,691 from 356,306 online donations. This is an organisation that normally operates on a $4million annual budget.


NpEngage cites their ‘preparedness’ and ability to respond rapidly as key factors that led people to donate to them in record numbers. 

In a nutshell:

  • They had an immediate response to a national crisis. As soon as the immigration ban was announced, their lawyers went to airports and immediately began filing lawsuits. By the next night they had already achieved some success in the courts.

  • Their website and social media channels clearly and immediately communicated their stand on the issues, and exactly what they were doing to fight back.

  • They had a clear, concise and direct call to action:

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  • And their message was amplified by high profile supporters.

 In contrast, after last night’s SONA debacle, and indeed the ongoing controversies surrounding the South African government, which NGOs can South Africans turn to? Where is the civil society response? Who are the drivers of actual change?

Similarly, which NGOs are fighting for justice for the victims of the Life Esidimeni tragedy? Solidarity, which is linked to Afriforum, announced that they will file a class-action lawsuit on behalf of the victims families, but  according to a Daily Maverick report, they have “not consulted the families and may be trying to take advantage of the tragedy”. So who is really standing up for the victims?

Recently, an American programmer found an innovative way to channel his frustrations with the Trump administration. He converted a Dash button (an Amazon device you press to instantly order, for example, more detergent when you run out) to automatically donate $5 to the ACLU every time he pressed it. In one week he’d already donated $30.

If we had such a device in South Africa, which NGO would step up enough to deserve our donations?