What we do

The Helen Suzman Foundation (HSF) was founded in 1993. The HSF has consistently promoted the liberal democratic values that informed Helen Suzman's work throughout her public life, and that she so clearly demonstrated in her devotion to public service.

The HSF aims to reach a wide and diverse population, and offers a platform for the dissemination of informed research and a forum for reasoned debate about policy choices.

Over the past 20 years the country has seen the dismantling of apartheid and the transition from a white minority government to a democratically elected government. While this transition to democracy has been universally lauded, the developmental and institutional weaknesses of state and society continue to impact massively on service delivery, especially to the poor. Problems around service delivery pose a profound threat to our constitutional democracy. The Helen Suzman Foundation provides a platform to discuss, debate and research areas around service delivery as we believe that the best defence of liberal consitutional democracy is holding government accountable. This we can do by keeping issues before the public.

The HSF can help promote democracy in South Africa by recognising and highlighting key social issues through its broad-based research programme, and by ensuring that the liberal project is extended to address poverty and social marginalisation.

How we do it

Click on the boxes on the right to read about our publications and projects



Focus is the flagship quarterly publication of the HSF. It is used as a forum for public debate and adds new, fresh voices to the policy dialogue. Each issue centres on a specific theme and readership is garnered through the publication of Focus on the website. The HSF seeks to place edited versions of the articles in the media to spread the insights and debate.

View and download issues of Focus

Roundtable Series

The Roundtable Series is a programme of panel discussions which provides a public forum to address topical issues of importance to South Africa’s political, economic and social development. The media are invited to each event. Immediately after the event, we publish a summary on our website and later an edited but verbatim version.

View and download Roundtables

Helen Suzman Memorial Lecture

The HSF, together with its partners, the Gordon Institute of Business Science, the Kaplan Centre for Jewish Studies and Research at UCT, and the Friedrich Naumann Foundation for Liberty, host an annual lecture in honour of Helen Suzman. These Lectures seek to honour not only Helen’s extraordinary contribution to public life in Parliament, but also to uphold the values which she brought to public life outside Parliament. The Memorial Lecture hosts a different speaker each year.

View and Download the Memorial Lectures

Justice Project

Symposia Series

Funded by the Open Society Foundation For South Africa, this project explores the justice system to identify problem areas and propose strategic interventions to enhance the delivery of justice. The HSF has successfully hosted three symposia which examined the civil justice system, criminal justice system and constitutional jurisprudence.

View and download the Justice Symposia

Submissions and Litigation

The HSF was admitted to the Constitutional Court as amicus curiae in 2011 in the case of Glenister v President of the Republic of South Africa and Others. The case concerned the dissolution of the Scorpions and its replacement with the Hawks.

The HSF has also made written and oral submissions to the National Council fo Provinces (NCOP) ad hoc Committee regarding the Protection of State Information Bill, and submissions
to the Standing Committee on the South African Police Service Amendment Bill, a consequence of the Glenister case.

The HSF has also embarked on litigation against the Judicial Services Commission

Read more about the project

Youth Outreach Project

The Helen Suzman Foundation Youth Outreach Project, Project Constitution, in partnership with HSBC and Constituion Hill, is an outreach initiative with a research component. The programme runs a series of workshops on constitutional matters such as democracy, the rule of law and separation of powers at elected government and independent schools around the Johannesburg metropolitan area.

Read more about the project

Health Reform Project

The HSF entered the health debate in 2009 by hosting a Roundtable entitled “Strategic Health Reform” in response to the ANC’s policy document on National Health Insurance. Since then, strategic reform of the health system has featured prominently on the public agenda. Consequently, and following a funding grant from HSBC in 2011, the HSF initiated a Health Reform Project. The core of the project is the question: Does the health care system enable citizens to realise their right of access to health care? The HSF has made several submissions on policy and regulation regarding the public and private healthcare system.

Read more about the project

Youth Leadership Project

The HSF piloted a youth leadership and mentoring programme. The programme targeted talented young people with proven leadership potential. The aim of the progamme was to assist these young people in converting their potential into actual success, by developing and bolstering confidence through a mentorship programme.

Critically, we also aimed to promote value-driven leadership, through both the mentor relationship and regular workshops.

Read more about the project