AIDC was formed in 1996 in response to the democratic transition in South Africa and the new opportunities and challenges it brought those seeking greater social justice within the democracy.
Over the years AIDC has played a leading role in various civil society responses to ongoing inequality including facilitating the launch and building of the South African Jubilee 2000 debt cancellation campaign, and the Right to Work Campaign. AIDC has established itself as a leading source of research and information on themes of poverty, trade, and globalisation as well as playing a central role in various regional and international networks and forums including the Southern African Peoples' Solidarity Network (SAPSN), Third World Network (TWN), Jubilee South, and the Trade Strategy Group (TSG). AIDC has contributed to strengthening South African civil society over the years by building leadership and analytical capacity and facilitating networking though a series of conferences, trainings, and leadership schools for trade unionists, women and youth.
A merger with Amandla Publishers in 2008 has provided a communication focus for rebuilding the organization into an effective capacity enhancing and knowledge producing organization.
A sustainable society free of racism, xenophobia, sexism, resource degradation, oppression, exploitation and alienation, where people live in dignity and govern by participatory democracy are respected and free to realise their potential productivity and creativity and live in peace without fear and in harmony with the environment.
To produce and promote alternative knowledge and analysis which enables popular movements for social, economic and ecological justice to engage with the intersecting crises flowing from the natural, economic and social challenges confronting humanity.
AIDC's broad strategic objectives are:
One Million Jobs Campaign
- Within the context of the multi-dimensional global crisis we will work with popular organisations of civil society to produce and promote research and analysis that provide concrete alternatives for creating decent work and livelihoods while ensuring the sustainability and integrity of our natural environment.
- Disseminate information and analysis that facilitates an engagement between activists of popular organisations of civil society, opinion shapers and policy makers on alternative strategies for sustainable development.
- Facilitate advocacy, campaigns and popular mobilisation for a million climate jobs that address simultaneously the economic and ecological dimensions of the global crisis.
- Undertake popular education programmes that strengthen the capacity of popular movements, especially key strategic partners, to link their struggles and campaigns in respect of jobs, livelihoods and the provision of essential services to the critical ecological and economic factors arising from the global and macro context.
The campaign has two starting points. First, people want work. In South Africa mass unemployment is one of the highest in the world and more than a million jobs were lost during the recession, alone.
The second starting point is that we have to stop the advance of climate change. South Africa is the 13th biggest emitter of greenhouse gases (GHGs) in the world. In addition, South Africa's energy intensive economy, driven by a mining and energy complex, crowds out investment in job creating sectors. In the context of SA and in the context of the climate crisis it is crucial that we cut the emission of GHGs. Many things have to be done to do this but four interventions are the most important:
- Switching to renewable energy, building wind farms and solar plants;
- Building an effective transport system and reducing trucks and cars on the roads;
- Switching from industrial agriculture to small-scale organic farming;
- Building energy efficient houses and buildings;
In doing this millions of jobs and livelihoods will be created. These are climate jobs. By climate jobs we mean all jobs that contribute to cutting GHG emissions and increasing the resilience of communities to withstand the impact of climate change.
The campaign bases itself on credible research that demonstrates how a million climate jobs can be created and urges the government to implement such proposals. The Million Climate Jobs Campaign works from the point of mobilising people through hope not fear. Rather than emphasising the catastrophic consequences of climate change the campaign credibly demonstrates what can be done to prevent climate change. It also shifts attention to the role of the national state in combating climate change and not just depending on negotiations that continue in the UNFCCC process for a multilateral agreement on cutting GHGs.
The Campaign brings together a broad range of forces. It has already been endorsed by COSATU and NACTU and a number of their affiliates have played a leading role in researching how jobs can be created and in which sectors while cutting GHG emissions. Land rights formations, social movements of the unemployed, housing groups and a host of environmental groups and other civil society organisations have joined the Campaign.
Programme Objectives and outcomes
A broad coalition of labour, environmental and popular civil society organisations campaign nationally in support of the demand for one million climate jobs that simultaneously addresses the unemployment and climate crisis. The Campaign mobilises thousands of South Africans around credible and well-researched proposals for creating one million jobs that reduce South Africa's greenhouse gas emissions and in the process raises the awareness of many ordinary South African of the threat of climate change and forces government to respond to its proposals.
Activities and Outcomes
A key part of the Campaign will be the capacity of activists to articulate the demands of the Campaign. This would involve enhancing their capacity to engage with the issues of climate change and strategies for creating climate jobs in the designated sectors. Tools of political economy will also have to be enhanced in order to give activists the means to convey the causes of mass unemployment and to situate climate change in the broader ecological crisis.
It is envisaged that the Campaign could spin off several specific and short-term campaigns, for example
- Renewable energy
- Public Transport
- Construction and housing
- Small-scale organic agriculture
Technology transfer, especially in relation to intellectual property rights and compulsory licensing
Financing mechanisms for one million climate jobs such as in relation to the Public Investment Corporation, prescribed assets, regulating capital flows etc.
To provide enhanced evidence that a million climate jobs can be created if sufficient political will exists a number of pilot projects will be developed.
AIDC's political economy programme is aimed at developing alternative perspectives in the field of eco policy alternatives: i.e. both economic and ecological. We do this in the context of the global crisis and its impact on South Africa and the region as well as growing inequality in South Africa and the associated mass unemployment crisis and the impact this has for the region.
South Africa faces a huge crisis of unemployment. The economy is creating fewer jobs than the number of new people that enter the work force. As shown by official GDP statistics, ever since the end of apartheid profits share of national income has increased over the wage share. Instead of investing the increased profits into creating jobs the greatest proportion has either been invested in speculative investment in the financial sector or invested out of the country. Much of the rest has been paid out in dividends to support the conspicuous consumption of South African and foreign share-holders.
Yet the dominant explanation for SA's mass unemployment crisis is that it is the high wages and stringent labour laws that is the cause of unemployment. However, according to the National Planning Commission in 2008 one third of all workers employed in South Africa earned less than R1000 and more than 50% of all workers earned less than R2500 per month. When one takes into account that these averages include the extremely high salary scales of top management in both the private and public sectors it becomes clear that poverty wages is the dominant reality for most working South Africans.
There has also been a dramatic increase in casual and informal employment. It is now estimated that 40% of the labour forces works outside of permanent employment governed by a formal contract. Again this would suggest that the unemployment crisis in South Africa is neither a result of high wages nor stringent labour laws. An alternative analysis of SA's mass unemployment crisis and high levels of inequality needs to be provided.
Popular civil society organisations, especially those campaigning for decent work, a living wage and solutions to unemployment, have utilised AIDC research, analysis and popular education and have increased their capacity for carrying out advocacy and raising public awareness at a local and national level in regard to pro-poor economic policies.
The Amandla Media Programme is an integrated communication and dialogue programme aimed at ensuring that AIDC's perspectives as well as social justice perspectives more generally engage larger sections of the population over and above AIDC's campaign/movement building and advocacy work.
The Amandla media programme creates an open non-sectarian space wherein progressive perspectives are analysed, debated, and people are engaged to take an informed stance towards the critical issues confronting humanity in the context of the multi-dimensional crisis of civilisation.
The programme is targeted at activists in labour and popular organizations as well as progressive and engaged intellectuals at the universities, in NGOs, parliament, churches, opinion makers, such as, journalists, lawyers, public officials in state institutions, etc.
The programme is comprised of four components:
- Amandla magazine,
- electronic media production,
- forums and seminars,
- Amandla! readers' groups.
- Programme objectives
Disseminate information and analysis that facilitates an engagement between activists of popular organisations of civil society, opinion shapers and policy makers on alternative strategies for sustainable development.