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South African Institute of Race Relations

Established in 1929[1] the South African Institute of Race Relations (SAIRR) is a research and policy organisation in South Africa. The Institute is "one of the oldest liberal institutions in the country,"[2].

South African Institute of Race Relations
Headquarters2 Clamart Road, Richmond, Johannesburg
Coordinates26°10′51″S 28°00′45″E / 26.18083°S 28.01250°E / -26.18083; 28.01250Coordinates: 26°10′51″S 28°00′45″E / 26.18083°S 28.01250°E / -26.18083; 28.01250

The Institute investigates socio economic conditions in South Africa, and aims to address issues such as poverty and inequality, and to promote economic growth through promoting a system of limited government, a market economy, private enterprise, freedom of speech, individual liberty, property rights, and the rule of law.[3] The SAIRR tracks trends in every area of South Africa's development ranging from business and the economy to crime, living conditions, and politics.


Jan Hofmeyr, an important member of SAIRR in the 1930s

The Institute was founded in 1929 to support cooperation between the racial communities of South Africa and to perform research on these relationships. The inaugural meeting was held on 9 May 1929 in the Johannesburg home of the missionary Reverend Ray E. Phillips. In attendance were Davidson Don Tengo Jabavu, one of the first professors at the University of Fort Hare; Johannes du Plessis, a missionary and theologian; Charles Templeman Loram, chief inspector of Native education in Natal Province; Edgar Brookes, J. Howard Pim, a government official; Thomas W. Mackenzie, editor of The Friend, a newspaper and J. H. Nicholson, Mayor of Durban.

In its early years of the 1930s, SAIRR had an ally in the politician Jan Hendrik Hofmeyr. Hofmeyr was an influential liberal politician who opposed some of the proto-apartheid policies of the time and pursued a pro-British agenda. However, Hofmeyr died in 1948, the same year as the decisive elections which put the National Party in power. Apartheid was formalised and the democracy was structured to favour the National Party, which would maintain rule over South Africa until 1994. White liberals were largely marginalised; even in 1948, where the United Party beat the National Party by 10% points in the popular vote, the National Party earned more seats, leading to a sense of helplessness about attempting to contest elections. Opposition to apartheid was routinely demonised as being pro-communist. The SAIRR remained an influential voice in South African society, in both apartheid and post-apartheid South Africa.[4]

It has also run a bursary scheme since 1935[5]. Nelson Mandela was awarded a bursary from the SAIRR in 1947 to complete his legal studies.[6]

Sponsors and DonorsEdit

The institute receives donations and funds from:[7]

  • Anglo American Chairman's Fund
  • Elisabeth Bradley Trust
  • FirstRand Foundation
  • Friedrich Naumann Foundation for Freedom
  • George Laurence
  • Haggie Charitable Trust
  • National Endowment for Democracy
  • Johannes van der Horst
  • Julian Ogilvie Thompson
  • Oppenheimer Memorial Trust
  • Peter Joubert
  • Royal Belgian Embassy
  • Trencor Services


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  2. ^ Hearn, Julie (1 October 2000). "Aiding democracy? Donors and civil society in South Africa". Third World Quarterly. 21 (5). p. 827.
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External linksEdit