South Africa's future is threatened by the transition from social justice to cronyism and wealth accumulation, the Council for the Advancement of the South African Constitution (Casac) said on Monday.
"South Africa is witnessing a transition from the politics of social justice, liberation and public service, to that of personal wealth accumulation, concentration of political power and hegemony," chairman Sipho Pityana said at the Our World Our Responsibility Donor Conference in Cape Town.
Pityana warned that this threatened the Constitution's progressive vision, as well as the country's democratic foundations and its prospects for future prosperity.
"Instead of taking their futures by the scruff of the neck, most South Africans have become passive spectators. The notion of 'active citizenship' has been lost," he said, according to a copy of his speech.
The conference was exploring the relationship between local and international philanthropists, and how civil society could channel funds from philanthropically-minded people and entities to transform the country's socio-economic landscape.
Recounting the formation of South Africa's first democratic government, Pityana said the vision had been to quickly establish a competent progressive State, that would address the population's needs.
"This view was shared by the donor community who also placed greater emphasis on partnership with the democratic State.
"The result was a government committed to develop a system that met its democratic constitutional mandate. Civil society structures were stripped of much of their intellectual and strategic capacity, as well as financial and other resources, as the new democratic State commanded these resources.
"Similarly with the ruling political party, the centre of power shifted to the state."
He said that this was in sharp contrast to the political traditions of the liberation movement, which "had seen the emergence of the African National Congress-aligned United Democratic Movement".