75th Anniversary fundraising campaign supports strategic projects


On 12 May 2009 the South African Institute of International Affairs (SAIIA) celebrates its 75th anniversary. This significant event provides the SAIIA extended community of Council, staff, members and friends with an opportunity to celebrate its achievements over the past three quarters of a century. In the world of national and even international think tanks this is an enviable record of service.

 It is widely accepted that organisations celebrating anniversaries like this utilise the milestone to launch a strategic fundraising campaign to meet present and future needs. In this context the SAIIA Council and Management have identified four projects that will contribute significantly to the organisation’s core objectives.

These projects will assist in attracting and retaining excellent staff (who are the core asset of the Institute), in enhancing SAIIA’s ability to serve the research and NGO community of Africa, and in developing a cadre of dynamic young South Africans able to take their place in the field of international relations.

It is critical that civil society organisations like SAIIA that are independently governed and financed play their unique role in our new democracy. With the acknowledged shortage of skills in the public service, SAIIA is making a meaningful contribution to policy input through its research and analysis. This is in fields as diverse as South Africa’s international relations, governance, security and terrorism, trade and investment, and the environment. We are regularly called upon by our national government as well as international agencies and foreign governments to make input into key strategies and policies.


In assessing the needs SAIIA’s National Council has approved a fundraising campaign that aims to raise R6 million for four key projects:

  • refurbishing Jan Smuts House to meet the needs of its expanded activities and increased staff complement (cost of R2.3 million): this project will result in additional staff offices, revamped kitchen and bathroom facilities, a paraplegic toilet, and a new meeting room
  • upgrading the Library to ensure that it is a state-of-the-art resource and e-information centre for Africa (cost of R1.3 million): this project will digitalise past and current SAIIA publications in order to make them accessible electronically to users across Africa; it will also enable SAIIA to develop a database of publications emanating from Africa on Africa, that currently are not available to scholars internationally
  • creating an African Visiting Fellowship Programme in order to share successful case studies in the continent’s development (cost of R1.2 million over 3 years): this project will allow SAIIA annually to invite a leading African who has made a significant contribution to Africa’s development to spend time at Jan Smuts House. He/she will share his/her expertise with our researchers and SAIIA’s external stakeholders, and write a monograph on an aspect of his/her work. It is intended that the Fellow will be a respected practitioner who has achieved success in advancing economic development, conflict resolution, democratic governance or a similar field.
  • establishing a strategic and holistic Youth Development Programme (cost of R1.2 million over 3 years): this project will enable SAIIA to develop a fully fledged outreach project to university students and school learners in order to raise the level of awareness and debate on international issues, and to encourage a cadre of young researchers and practitioners in the field.


As a non-governmental organisation, the South African Institute of International Affairs has been built on the generous financial support of organisations and individuals. In fact, in its fledgling years, South African mining magnate Abe Bailey made an annual endowment of £5000 in order to get the institution off the ground. With R4.4 million already raised, it is hoped that the 75th Anniversary Campaign will be able to reach the target of R 6 million that would allow the Institute to achieve these goals.

The Campaign is being overseen by a Steering Committee consisting of:

  • Elisabeth Bradley (Chairman)
  • Kuseni Dlamini
  • Brian Hawksworth
  • Elizabeth Sidiropoulos (National Director, SAIIA).

The Campaign Director is Jonathan Stead, the Institute’s Director of Marketing and Operations, who is a former member of the SAIIA Council and its Executive Committee.

We sincerely request your financial support for the four projects making up the Campaign, and you are free to make your gift to the Campaign generally or to a specific element of it. This Campaign is being managed within the Institute using current staff resources so you can be assured that your gift will go in its entirety to the projects specified. You may request the gift to be recorded anonymously or you may wish to be recognised as a donor. At a certain level of giving you may wish to discuss possible naming rights for elements of the projects with the Campaign Director.

SAIIA is registered as a Public Benefit Organisation and also has section 18 (a) status in terms of tax deduction for donations to the Institute. We are therefore able to issue certificates for tax purposes for any donation made to this campaign.

Should you wish to make a gift in response to the newsletter or require a campaign brochure and pledge card, please contact Jonathan Stead via email using jonathan.stead@wits.ac.za or telephonically on (011) 339 2021.

The Jan Smuts House Library

The Jan Smuts House Library began as a collection of publications presented to the newly-formed institute by Chatham House in 1934. Then known as the Information Library and situated in Cape Town, it was regularly visited by members of parliament, journalists, educators and students alike.

With a generous grant from the Carnegie Corporation of New York in 1950 the library was expanded to include a subsidiary Africa Library. The Africa Library aimed to provide current information on political, economic and social issued pertaining to sub-Saharan Africa.

In accordance with the Smuts Memorial Trust, the two libraries were amalgamated between 1959 and 1961, forming what is today known as the Jan Smuts House Library.

What makes the Jan Smuts House Library unique to other institutional libraries is that it builds on the personal collection of Jan Smuts. As part of the initiative by the Smuts Memorial Trust, much of the collection from the private study of the former statesman was preserved in the library. Although the collection is now stored at Irene, the library continues to emulate Smuts’ wide range of interests. It is for this reason that the library contains such a wide range of interests such as history, philosophy, anthropology and religion.

The library also boasts the personal collection of Professor Martin Edmonds of the Department of Politics and International Relations at the University of Lancaster. The library continues to grow and to be a reference point for students and researchers alike. Since 1975, the Jan Smuts House Library has served as a Depository Library for the United Nations as well as more recently a Development Information Centre for the World Bank.

The library has grown both in terms of its collection (mostly housed in printed format) and usage. It currently houses over 25 500 monograph titles and 350 serial titles, and serves approximately 4 000 users per annum with two permanent staff members.

Moving into the 21st century, the library is set to evolve into an African e-research resource centre. A need has also been identified by the research community for a repository where lesser known publications on African issues by Africans can be stored both in print and on an electronic database. Often monographs, research papers and books are printed by local publishers in African states and the valuable research output does not become known beyond that centre.

SAIIA wishes to create a repository of such works, using its wide research network across Africa. This would also include developing a database of such works that can be accessed electronically by African scholars seeking information on peer work, and by the international research community.

The library has become a valuable source of information, thanks principally to the generosity of early donors such as the Carnegie Corporation and individuals such as Professor Edmonds and the continued support of funders. As the 75th Anniversary Campaign continues to build momentum, it is hoped that funds raised will allow the library to grow further, acquiring more resources while becoming a modernised and technologically advanced information centre.

Youth Development Programme

Over the last fifteen years SAIIA (both at Jan Smuts House and through its branches across the country) has embarked on a number of ground breaking youth outreach projects. With the support of local and international sponsors it has attempted to develop an interest in international relations among the next generation.

Some of the initiatives of the youth development programmes have included the Model United Nations Global Classrooms Debates at the Johannesburg Branch and the International Inter Schools Quiz competitions organised by the Western Cape and Pietermaritzburg Branches. Learners from various schools have also been invited to relevant Speakers’ Meetings.

The International Careers Evening is an annual highlight, organised by SAIIA interns to introduce students to the varied careers in the field of international relations. The event attracts over 160 undergraduate and postgraduate university students from across Gauteng. Since South Africa’s return to the international community, a wealth of new opportunities has opened up for young South Africans and SAIIA is well placed to assist in introducing them to these dynamic careers.

As part of an extended programme, SAIIA hosts two internship programmes, one funded by the Konrad Adenauer Foundation and the other with support from the Swedish International Development Agency. The purpose is to train young graduates, often from disadvantaged backgrounds, in research skills and to mentor them for entry into a career in international relations. A high percentage of the alumni of the programmes are now holding middle management positions in relevant government departments and international agencies.

Through these programmes SAIIA engages with the wider question of involvement by young South Africans in the major international issues of the day. We seek to engage the youth of our country in the debate on issues such as environmental change and global warming, security and terrorism, democracy and governance, conflict resolution, and international trade.

Despite the success of these programmes, there exists a need to create an overall youth development strategy that would ensure the sustainability of the projects and bring the young people participating in these activities into the SAIIA membership and staffing cadres.

To address this, SAIIA wishes to establish a Youth Development Programme with initial funding for three years to plan and execute a holistic project. Although it would be based at Jan Smuts House it would also assist where logistically possible the branches with their outreach efforts to schools and universities. The appointment of a Youth Development Officer, preferably someone with experience of and a passion for youth work, would be an essential part of this project.

The proposed project would have an estimated cost of R1.2 million. This would include the appointment of a dynamic Youth Development Manager to coordinate the project, along with a Youth Development Intern from a disadvantaged background. It is anticipated that this dynamic team will be able to travel to universities and schools, locally and nationally. Where possible, SAIIA also intends to transport learners from disadvantaged backgrounds to SAIIA events, where they will be able to network with staff and university students.

12 May 2009