In the Philanthropy & Development in Southern Africa series, three related research papers; on philanthropy and resource governance (Shauna Mottiar), on illicit flows and tax (Khadija Sharife), and on illicit flows and the potential and policy required to change economic structures (Sarah Bracking), all focus on the contemporary and enduring problem of economic injustice in Africa in the context of huge and increasing outflows of illegally transferred wealth. The three papers explore illicit financial flows as both cause and consequence of malign structures of political economy, and then ask what philanthropists can best do about the agenda of illicit flows and economic justice.In the first paper, Mottiar considers the role of philanthropy in the resource governance debate by drawing on evidence from three examples of resource extraction in Africa. It begins by outlining the scope of resource governance and considering understandings of philanthropy, and argues that philanthropic practice has some way to go before reaching its optimal potential for catalysing change.
Most resource extraction initiatives in Africa occur in countries where there are severe development backlogs and socioeconomic depravation. An obvious question raised by proponents of social justice is whether and how some of the profits accumulated by resource extraction find their way back to the countries of origin and specifically back to the communities they affect. Does philanthropy have a role to play in facilitating this process? Is there scope for philanthropic decisions to impact on socioeconomic transformation and on development? Mottiar examines these challenging questions and concludes that philanthropic initiatives – including Corporate Social Responsibility - should be required to uphold principles of social justice philanthropy. This includes supporting existing CSOs, networks and movements which focus on the root causes of social problems and commit to structural or systemic change. Clearly this would pose a significant challenge to CSR initiatives emanating from companies that are committed to ensuring the status quo in so far as it benefits the bottom line.
It would however go some way to provide resources for social justice and build the capacity for human agency. In the second paper, Sharife argues that not much has changed since the days of the Rosetta Stone, when it relates to ‘governance’ of what the paper terms the ‘needs economy’. This ‘needs economy’ is a product of hyper-competitive economic systems that frame social welfare of the public (often falling into the needful or ‘needy’ category) as the voluntary responsibility of successful philanthropists, rather than governments elected by the people. Unlocking language – and definitions, is often key to unlocking economic policies. The ‘needs economy’ has allowed for the ordering and management of reality by experts who act within spaces of unaccountable wealth, with philanthro-capitalism framed as being without history and politics, despite monies generated