Research and Advocacy Unit

The Research and Advocacy Unit (RAU) is an operational programme within OSF-SA which seeks to complement our grant-making activities and enhance other work being undertaken by South African civil society organisations. This work primarily takes the form of research, advocacy and capacity-building initiatives that are conceptualised internally and executed with identified partners throughout the year. In this way, OSF-SA uses its own agency and expertise to develop specific transparency and accountability interventions to deliver of specific strategic priorities.

Unlike OSF-SA’s two grant-making programmes, the RAU accepts only solicited proposals for its projects, through special calls released periodically on our website and shared on OSF-SA’s social media pages. As part of OSF-SA’s current strategy, the RAU focuses on two portfolios:

Promoting extractive sector transparency and accountability

The contribution of the mining sector to the economy has been declining as a proportion of the gross domestic product over the last 20 years. Despite this, the sector remains and important economic contributor in terms of employment, tax and export revenue. OSF-SA believes that inclusive participation, transparency and accountability are key democratic principles for achieving good governance in the mining sector. In this regard, RAU in partnership with civil society organisations initiates various interventions to promote these principles focussed on three areas:

  • Inclusive participation of mine-affected communities and civil society in general with a special focus on women and youth
    • Creating and supporting spaces for constructive multi-stakeholder engagement
    • Promoting inclusion of marginalised voices in policy processes and formulation of community development initiatives such as Social and Labour Plans
    • Alliance and partnership building especially for mine-affected communities
  • Transparency
    • Promoting proactive disclosures of mining and related licenses
    • Advocating for financial transparency and optimal utilisation of mineral revenues
    • Ownership transparency
    • Monitoring the activities and impacts of mining companies using accountability tools such as social audits
  • Accountability
    • Targeting interventions and advocacy at various levels of government and at the private sector within South Africa
    • Adapting and using continental and international instruments to enhance the performance and contribution of the mining sector to sustainable livelihoods

Safeguarding the state – capacity and neutrality

The goal of building and maintaining a capable South African state has been articulated in various government plans including the National Development Plan. However, there is evidence that this objective has not been fully realised and that much work is required to enable the state to function effectively and optimally. Through this portfolio, the RAU conceptualises medium- and long-term interventions to:

  • Uncover the nature and depth of corruption and state capture at the public-private sector interface
  • To support the rebuilding state institutions at all levels of government
  • To rebuild public trust in state institutions
  • To support public officials to deliver on their mandate

This portfolio of work is diagnostic in that it uncovers the systemic and operational challenges inhibiting service delivery. It is also forward-looking and proactive in as far as the projects seek to develop mechanisms for strengthening the state and for accountability. The approach is to work with civil society, academia and government bridge the gap that sometimes exists between these social partners and to leverage their respective strengths.