OSISA’s Economic Justice programme recognises that poverty represents a significant challenge in southern Africa. People who have little financial security are often unable to access the most basic of services, including food and clean water, housing and shelter, education and health services. In addition to the material effects of poverty, there are other less tangible consequences. Poor communities tend to suffer from political disenfranchisement, and indeed there is a strong relationship between social exclusion and poverty – the most marginalised groups tend to also be the poorest groups in a given society.
OSISA is particularly concerned with efforts that target marginalised and vulnerable communities, including socio-cultural and linguistic minorities, women and youth.
As such, OSISA supports initiatives that promote advocacy, networking and capacity-building in the following areas:
- Budget and debt monitoring and tracking. A critical feature of an open society is budget transparency. OSISA supports local and national organisations that protect and expand social sector expenditure and foster accountability and transparency in public budgeting and economic management. This includes work by local citizens groups engaged in tracking and publishing around public debt.
- Regional economic development and integration policy monitoring. As a regional organisation, OSISA is committed to supporting a well functioning Southern African Development Community (SADC), as an economic bloc that has the capacity to set norms and standards and guide economic growth and development at the regional level. OSISA supports organisations and institutions that seek to develop regional approaches to lobbying SADC and its member states in order to advance the regional integration and economic development agenda in ways that are pro-poor.
- Tracking the flow of development aid. In a region that is home to a number of middle income countries (Angola, Botswana, Namibia, Swaziland), as well some of the poorest countries in the world (DRC, Malawi, Lesotho, Zambia), OSISA is committed to better understanding the purpose and utilisation of development aid. There is growing recognition that inequality within economies can lead to a misalignment of aid, and therefore there is a need to engage in more robust debates about the role and function of external development assistance. The foundation supports organisations and institutions that are working towards greater coherence in terms of policies towards development aid, and greater transparency by governments, non-state actors and development agencies in the use and management of development aid.
- Promoting Consumer rights. In recent years research has demonstrated that poor people represent a significant market for goods and services around the world. Yet poor people are often subject to predatory practices from the financial services sector, and in many cases they pay more for services such as cell phone airtime, and transportation that those who are more economically advantaged. Poor people are also more likely to receive goods and services that are sub-standard than more affluent consumers, and they often lack the skills and resources to challenge companies or service providers. OSISA supports infinitives that strengthen the knowledge of consumers, and that seek to mobilise and organise consumers. This includes the commissioning of studies aimed at publishing differential pricing regimes, exposing cartels and other exploitative business practices that disadvantage consumers.
OSISA's Economic Justice Programme will not fund:
- Government economic policy commissions, and other comparable official government or multilateral initiatives.
- Welfare needs of identified target groups or individuals, such as loans and grants for shelter construction, drugs for medication, etc.
- Academic research on economic and development policy, which is not causally and closely linked to social organisation, action and campaigning.
- Credit for business establishment and development.