Rationale of SACSIS

18 May 2008

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SACSIS – the South African Civil Society Information Service - is a platform for policy dialogue that has been established as a news agency to channel social justice news and analysis to the mainstream media.

SACSIS is deeply concerned about the fragility of life for the poor, who are disproportionately predisposed to environmental, economic and social hazards. This is apparent in the appalling conditions under which they live and work. We consider these conditions to be unacceptable.

To this end, SACSIS seeks to influence media reporting and consequently public policy discourse to promote the idea of the entitlement of the poor, to a higher standard of living and better quality of life. We seek to shift poverty discourse away from a focus on the needs of people, to one on the rights of people. In doing so, SACSIS  champions issues that specifically improve the material wellbeing of the poor.

In principle, SACSIS is testing the relationship between democracy and governance and the realisation of socio-economic rights. The guiding question that drives our analysis is: How do we make democracy work for the poor? We pose this question because public policy in South Africa does not respond adequately to the issue of inequality.

By the same token, we are deeply concerned that the discourse about  inequality has not yet entered mainstream media debates. Given its overarching position in society, it would be fair to argue that the media has enormous reach and influence. To a large degree, it sets the tone for public discourse on policy issues; and in many ways, the media’s power is quite complete. It shapes perceptions and conceals issues, either by not reporting on them, or by not asking the right questions. One glaring deficiency in the media is the lack of exploration into the systemic drivers of poverty and underdevelopment.

In order to address this challenge, the SACSIS news agency feeds regular social justice analysis and commentary to the mainstream media. More than 50% of the articles we have released since our launch have been republished in a wide range of South Africa's daily newspapers.

Concurrently, the SACSIS website has also been established as a forum for critical engagement on socio-economic policy debates.

SACSIS is a space for engaged activists who wish to belong to a social justice network built on clear values. Our contributors are drawn from the ranks of civil society. We acknowledge that contestation is an important part of democratic engagement and support contributors who engage with issues in a critical, assertive and independent manner. Our columnists are challenged to write creatively in an effort to reframe dated debates and emerge with a new vision based on clear principles and practical solutions.

Our geographic scope is South Africa, both within the regional and global contexts.

You can find this page online at http://sacsis.org.za/site/article/1171.

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