This paper explores the dynamics of regime change in South Africa and
Zimbabwe through an examination of civil society's role, but more particularly
mainline Christian religious associations, in democratising and consolidating
democracy. After surveying state–civil society debates, an analysis of
the nature and purpose of civil society in these two countries is undertaken.
In both countries, a vibrant, diverse civil society exists that builds or
strengthens democratic possibilities; however, Zimbabwean civil society is
weaker for reasons that include regime type, the particularities of the liberation
struggle, and constitutional limitations. The paper concludes with
prescriptions for strengthening civil society in South Africa based on lessons
learned from Zimbabwe.