Legal Framework for Civil Society and Law Reform

Working with the Non-Profit Sector in South Africa & Working with the Non-Profit Sector in Nigeria

The International Journal
of Not-for-Profit Law

Volume 4, Issue 4, June 2002

By the Charities Aid Foundation / Allavida
Reviewed by Karla Simon

These books are the latest in the series being published by CAF, under the able editorship of Caroline Hartnell. The aim of the series is to allow both NPOs and private funders to learn more about the NPO sector in various countries. The general focus of both of these new editions is extremely useful, and CAF is to be complimented for providing such easy access to pertinent information that NPO managers and foundation project officers will find helpful as they seek projects and partners in new countries. The books can be purchased from CAF, by contacting them at their offices in Kent. Reviews of previous books in the series can be found elsewhere in IJNL.

ICNL’s interest in this series is to look at the way in which the legal structures affecting NPOs are addressed in each of the books. That said, it is clear that much more information was available about South Africa, as the discussion of legal issues about Nigerian NPOs is quite skimpy. This reviewer suggests that those who are interested in working in Nigeria should consult a much more complete analysis of the issues, which can be found on the United States International Grantmakers website, produced by the Council on Foundations in partnership with ICNL. The Nigeria note featured there contains a good deal of the relevant information as well as links to actual laws.

The South Africa report, on the other hand, provides a good and detailed analysis of the legal issues, taking a somewhat historical approach, which is highly appropriate under the circumstances. There has been much change in the legislative landscape affecting NPOs in South Africa since 1998, and it is well worth considering the background when one thinks about the current situation.

The legal/fiscal analysis in the South Africa book is quite clear and very helpful. Anyone seeking more information is directed to lawyers familiar with the issues, including Mary Honey of the Legal Resources Centre (she is unfortunately on a one-year leave at this writing, but her colleagues should be able to provide relevant information). The only difficulty with information provided in hard-cover format is that it may easily become out of date. At present, there is discussion of the scope of tax exemption and tax deductibility available to NPOs in South Africa. Anyone making grants there should probably subscribe to a listserve published by the NonProfit Partnership (NPP). Information on access to the listserve can be obtained from CAF South Africa at cafsouthernafrica@cafcharitynet.org.