Dear Friends and Foes
We are writing to tell you about the new amaBhungane, and to invite you to join our community of supporters.
You may have come to know us by our stories in the
Mail & Guardian over the past six years.
They have exposed corruption and empowered readers to hold power to account. They have traced and helped shape the contours of our democracy.
Our stories have uncovered state capture – think Zuma Inc and the Guptas – and how institutions such as the NPA, SARS and Hawks have been undermined for narrow political ends. They have recorded how state companies such as Transnet, SAA and Denel have been looted and how state financiers such as the PIC and IDC handed patronage to a favoured few.
And they have highlighted corporate abuse, such as of mining companies wreaking havoc on communities and the environment.
You may not have liked all we wrote. But we trust you will have seen our scrupulous attempts to be accurate and fair, as our objective is to develop the best practice of investigative journalism.
We pursue this not only by investigating and writing, but also by ploughing back through skill transfers and advocacy.
We have hosted more than 50 journalists from across Southern Africa on three-month investigative fellowships, some of whom have started their own investigative centres back home.
We have fought for information rights important to investigative journalists and the public through representations, campaigning and litigation. In this way, we have helped beat back the “Secrecy Bill”, amend the Companies Act to make company ownership more transparent, and preserve the public nature of court records.
Our work, we believe, is essential to open, accountable and just democracy. This is what drives us.
So what has changed?
Our democracy is going through a rough patch. Now, more than ever, readers need fearless, independent, in-depth journalism. But large parts of the media are failing in this duty because of declining circulation and advertising revenues, ownership concentration and attacks on media freedom. There is very little investment in journalism that exposes corruption and holds power to account.
To help fill the void, amaBhungane ended its exclusive publication arrangement with the
Mail & Guardian at the end of March, to become Southern Africa’s pre-eminent independent investigative non-profit.
We now work completely independently, funded wholly by charitable foundations and the public.
In the last five months we have reached a greater diversity of readers by publishing via
City Press, the Daily Maverick, Business Day, the Sunday Times and the Mail & Guardian, with more to follow.
And we are pushing deeper into the digital frontier to reach especially the switched-on, politically engaged younger readers who will shape our future.
We are building a new website optimised for mobile accessibility and reader interaction. We present short versions of our stories on
Facebook and are much more interactive on Twitter. We hope to add a WhatsApp channel soon.
Ours now is a journey of change to make us more effective in our goal: open, accountable and just democracy through investigative journalism in the public interest.
But we cannot do it alone. We need you to help us keep digging. Join our community.
Yours in the struggle for accountability,
AmaBhungane is a non-profit company that develops investigative journalism through its best practice, skills transfers and information rights advocacy.
This is a public interest task we believe promotes open, accountable and just democracy. AmaBhungane is isiZulu for “the dung beetles”.