Helen Suzman Foundation

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The Helen Suzman Foundation is an independent, non-partisan think-tank in South Africa dedicated to promoting liberal democratic values and human rights in post-apartheid South Africa through its research and publications. The foundation was established in honour of Helen Suzman, a long-time liberal opposition MP who opposed apartheid in the South African parliament and the foundation's patron.

The foundation publishes opinion pieces in newspapers, a quarterly magazine, Focus, and also conducts public opinion polls in South Africa as well as neighbouring Zimbabwe.[1]

Academic R. W. Johnson was the foundation's first director until he resigned in 1995.[2] He continued to write freelance articles for the press describing himself as the foundation's former director, one of which led to a falling-out with Helen Suzman herself in 2003. Suzman and Johnson's successor at the Foundation, Lawrence Schlemmer, accused Johnson of racism and sought to distance the foundation from him after he wrote an article in which he referred to senior South African politicians of Indian descent as "enterprising Asian countrymen".[3][4]

In 2006, former Democratic Alliance MP Raenette Taljaard succeeded Schlemmer to become the foundation's director.[5] She, in turn, was succeeded by the present Director, Francis Antonie, in 2010.


  1. ^ "Opinion poll carried out by South African foundation reported", BBC Monitoring Africa, 20 June, 2000
  2. ^ John Fox, "Reflections On the Tragedy of SA", All Africa, 6 December 2004
  3. ^ Helen Suzman and Lawrence Schlemmer, "Johnson's racial slur dismays us", Business Day, 14 September 2003
  4. ^ "Suzman-Johnson Race Spat Reflects Liberal Dilemma", Business Day, 18 September 2003
  5. ^ "Former MP to head Suzman Foundation", South African Press Association, 11 April 2006

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