This brief explores the opportunities and barriers to constructing a developmental social compact in South Africa, with a keen focus on the role, contribution, participation and capacity of civil society, as well as the challenges to social dialogue and social compacting processes. It briefly assesses the country’s institutionalised social dialogue model – NEDLAC – and how it enables and/or stifles meaningful participation and representation of civil society as a key constituency. It contextualises the current deliberations on the need for a new social compact for South Africa and also discusses the state of civil society in relation to opportunities to strengthen the influence and bargaining power of the sector in social compacting.