About the project

Siyazana is an isiZulu word that means we know each other or we are connected. This website has been designed to provide users with a tool to investigate the connections that exist between the private and public spheres in South Africa. Specifically, it provides a unique insight into the financial connectivities that can, and often do, determine how, when, and why money is expended by government.

Often, these connections are hidden from public scrutiny, and with good reason. Personal and professional relationships tend to have a significant impact on the decision-making process, and in exposing these to public scrutiny, it is hoped that the people will become more aware and interested in the issues that have a direct bearing on their daily lives.

That is not to say that all relationships or connections between public and private actors are inherently bad or used to influence political decision-making. However, by highlighting the existence of these connections, where they are unknown to the public, great transparency is achieved and any potential abuses can be avoided.

The Siyazana database

Siyazana is primarily a database containing the the financial interests of public officials, drawn from the financial disclosure forms they are obligated to complete when they enter office. But that is not all. Various other freely available data sets have been added in order to shed light on connections that may be relevant. Biographical data has also been included to draw out connections that may exist based on history or geography of the individuals, for instance. Media articles have also served to populate the database, where relevant, as these provide specific insights into relationships that exist between government officials and other actors.

The purpose of these forms is to avoid any situation which could pose a conflict of interest. This database can therefore serve both public and private individuals as they navigate the

We highlight ownership, associations, corporate and political interests intersecting business and politics, encompassing individual and collective interest groups.

Siyazana is based on Grano, a re-usable toolkit for mapping out political and economic influence. If you want to create a similar project, you can re-use the open source code behind Siyazana.