Peacebuilding in South Africa

Ten years after democratic elections


Africa: the hopeless continent” (The Economist 13 May 2000:17)

South Africa has started on the long road to reconstruction and development, after the fall of apartheid and the birth of true democracy exactly ten years ago. Before that, the situation in the country seemed truly hopeless – with poverty, suffering and oppression imposed upon the black majority, by the white National Party in government for three decades. 

Many predicted that a change of government would be accompanied by civil war and result in another failed African State. However, South Africa defied these expectations, and continues to do so – making progress on many levels, albeit in baby steps. Africa need not be a hopeless continent, and South Africa is leading the way in proving what is possible - with a lot of vision and determination.

This essay will discuss the long-term prospects of the peace building process that was started in 1994 with the first democratic elections, and is therefore halfway through the last stage, according to Lederach’s theory – the Outcome, which is expected roughly twenty years after a complex political crisis (Lederach 1998:178). Lederach compartmentalises the Reconstruction process into different timeframes, as well as different areas to be addressed - from the Immediate Agenda to Transition and Transformation, and finally Reconciliation (Lederach 1998:178). 

Action is the immediate response to a Socio-Political crisis, lasting 2-6 months and usually involving emergency relief or military intervention (Lederach 1998:180). Following this is a period of roughly 2 years, during which preparations are usually made to hand-over to a new government, withdrawing foreign peacekeeping forces and other forms of intervention or proxy governance (Lederach 1998:179). 

The next 5-10 years usher in the Design phase, where new projects and policies are designed and implemented for economic, political, psychological and spiritual reconstruction of the nation (Lederach 1998:179). About twenty years after the crisis point, the outcome of these policies and external intervention should be reasonably clear - with the expected result being a more just, stable and peaceful country (Lederach 1998:179).

In the case of South Africa, as with many other countries, the theory did not fit the reality quite as neatly or predictably as many may have liked. Most of the phases lasted many more years than Lederach’s synopsis suggests as the norm, and the Outcome seems unlikely to have reached full fruition at the end of the twenty year period – only ten years away. 

However, this framework is useful in generalising about different periods of transition through which South Africa has progressed, and these will be discussed chronologically. A historical synopsis precedes the main task, of analysing the peace building process, as this is integral to gaining an understanding of the context and the unique challenges faced in South Africa. The moment of breakthrough and the surrounding “Action” phase is explained briefly, before discussing the past ten years of reconstruction – successes and failures.

The four main areas that require sustained attention during any transitional period – political, economic, socio-psychological and spiritual transformation – will all be analysed in detail when examining the Design period of the Transition. It is clear from the outset that many different actors were involved in bringing about the long-overdue political and social transformation – from the intervention of International organisations and donors, to the grassroots efforts of non-government organisations (NGOs) and Trade Unions, Churches and even key figures from the Business sector and Civil society.

While much credit is due to the many who influenced and implemented this [anti-apartheid] policy, the success of South Africa cannot be attributed to a coherent, well-designed, or well-executed American-crafted policy, but rather to the people of South Africa...[and] to a long struggle among different constituencies [and] interest groups” (Baker 2001:6).

The anti-apartheid struggle lasted for decades, and was a good example of what Saunders calls a web of different actors on different levels, interacting and mutually dependent – involving the whole “body politic”(Saunders in Lederach 1998:185). Many people in South Africa stepped forward to offer their negotiating expertise – from both sides of the racial divide - like Cyril Ramaphosa, a popular black labour union activist, and Roelf Meyer, from the much-hated National Party. However, this essay will highlight the absence of women in these proceedings, the negative impact that has had on current efforts towards peace building, and the need for women of South Africa to contribute towards the vision and the values of the “New” South Africa.

After some tentative suggestions and projections for the future, the essay concludes with the reminder that the task ahead for South Africa is a huge one – it seems insurmountable when viewed from the present status of the country – with limited resources, incomplete participation and the waning strength of its former leaders. 

However, the vision must be rekindled, the passion and the hope that carried the struggle through decades – this alone will ensure success and a brighter future for the “rainbow country” (Mail & Guardian 23 Dec 1999:6). Vision alone can motivate people to work, sacrifice, participate, and pay their dues - uniting the many races, cultures, and socio-economic people groups in pursuit of the common goal - peace!

1. History of the Conflict

1.1. Colonisation - First 250 years
South Africa had many precolonial waves of migration by various African tribes, but its official history began in 1652, with the Dutch VOC company landing at the Cape to use it as a supply station (Worden 2000: 7-9). Over the next few decades, a gradual pastoral invasion began - forcing the Khoikhoi inhabitants to move further inland (Worden 2000:9-10). By the 1760s pass laws were introduced for Khoikhoi who wished to reside or work in the new colony (Worden 2000:10,13,76). There were many clashes, mainly over alleged cattle theft on both sides, and eventually in 1799 a full-scale Xhosa rebellion broke out, which lasted until 1803 - when British intervention forced a surrender (Worden 2000:11). 

From the 1800s onwards, the Cape was a British colony, and many Industrial reforms were implemented, including extended pass laws and restrictions on ownership of property (Worden 2000:12-13). Meanwhile, by the 1820s, another wave of African migration called the Mfecane was taking place -from further North, to the area known today as Kwa-Zulu Natal, on the East coast (Worden 2000:15-16). Some speculations exist as to whether this was purely driven by tribal wars, or if the intrusion of slave-traders in Africa played a role in this turmoil (Worden 2000:17).

As British industrial needs had changed, relying on a more mobile labour force, in 1828 the pass laws for Khoikhoi were repealed, but Africans entering the colony still needed passes (Worden 2000:13,77). By 1834, slavery in the colony was also abolished (Worden 2000:13,77), and around the same time a few thousand Afrikaners, of Dutch descent, left the colony in what became known as the ‘Great Trek’ - and settled further North (Worden 2000:13-14). 

Many theories exist as to the reasons for this move, and conflicting accounts of the numbers of Afrikaners involved - but this event became the pivotal moment of the birth of an Afrikaner identity, as separate from the British, with strong religious and economic differences between them. In the 1850s, the Vaal area in the North was declared to be an Independent Boer state, after extensive fighting against the attempts of the British to expand their domain, with Native Africans joining the Afrikaans in their joint struggle against Imperialism (Worden 2000:18-19).

At the same time, elsewhere in the colony, the British started a series of Colonial Immigration schemes between 1849 and 1852 (Worden 2000:17), with Scottish, English and Irish among the many eager new settlers to arrive in Africa. In 1853, the Franchise was property-based (Worden 2000:78), and in the 1860s, to ensure political rights were restricted only to the new colonial settlers, further laws were introduced, preventing black voter registration (Worden 2000:81). To help establish the rapidly growing agricultural industry in Kwa-Zulu Natal, the British also imported thousands of Indian slaves in the 1860s (Worden 2000:17).

The economy changed dramatically after the discovery of diamonds in Kimberley in 1867, and with the further discovery of the richest deposits of gold in the world (Worden 2000:22). From 1870 onwards, the British tried to monopolise the resources of this divided country, by attempting to win the Boers’ co-operation in the Transvaal, and when this failed, they eventually annexed the province (Worden 2000:26). In 1879, however, the Zulu War, fought over boundary disputes in the crucial labour corridor between the East coast and the mines in the Transvaal, temporarily united the Afrikaners and the British against the Zulus (Worden 2000:26-27). The Zulu Nation were hard to subdue, and a truce was agreed upon finally, but civil conflict continued between the settlers and 'Natives' (Worden 2000:26). 

For this reason, the introduction of segregation in urban areas in the 1880s (Worden 2000:79) was merely a reflection of the fact that the various national and ethnic groups in the country were developing their own identities, growing further and further apart from each other. The 1899 to 1902 Anglo-Boer War was the final attempt by the British to establish control over the mineral-rich Transvaal, with the Afrikaners struggling for independence - cultural, political and economic (Worden 2000:28-35). Africans fought on both sides of the war, but their role in the war is not well-documented, although hundreds were killed in the British concentration camp, along with over 26,000 Afrikaner women and children (Worden 2000:33).

1.2 Nonviolent Protest - 50 years
Industrialism and the protection of mining interests were the main motivation behind the political union of the Afrikaner states with the British colonies in 1910, forming the British Union of South Africa (Worden 2000:35-36). The white people felt the need for unity against the threat of black invasion outweighed other considerations. Many racist laws were passed in the next few decades, and racism was entrenched in the constitution, despite the efforts of leading black politicians (Worden 2000:35). The 1905 School Board Act was already in place, ensuring separate education systems for blacks, whites and Indians, and from 1906 to 1914, Indians had protested other restrictions, under Gandhi’s leadership (Worden 2000:96). 

The first meeting of the South African Native National Congress (SANNC), later to become the ANC, took place in Bloemfontein in 1912 to plan nonviolent campaigns against the exclusion of black people from business and politics (Worden 2000:92). The 1920s saw an intensification of racism however, with the Mixed Marriages Act (Worden 2000:87) and in 1926 the Mines Act (Worden 2000:84). At the same time, between 1915 and 1929, there was a concerted move by Afrikaner identity groups to build a strong cultural identity for themselves and secure a parliamentary majority (Worden 2000:100-103).

During the 1930s Depression, there was no relief for black people, who were suffering even higher rates of unemployment and poverty than the white population (Worden 2000:69). The 1932 Native Service Contract Act was economically motivated, and forced black residents on white farmlands to pay taxes or work for the farmers - and they were not allowed to leave without written permission (Worden 2000:68). 

Other laws, like the 1936 Native Trust and Land Act, marked the beginning of what later became the homelands policy of the 1960s - an attempt to enforce separate development of black people in unwanted sections of the country (Worden 2000:68,124-125). During the depression years and well into the 1940s, there was increased urbanisation of the black population, dispossessed of their land and unable to survive independently any longer (Worden 2000:69). 

Religious movements like the Zionists flourished (Worden 2000:71), as well as the birth of the distinctive township or “Marabi” culture (Worden 2000:71) and the “stokvel” practice of pooling resources to look after people in one’s neighbourhood (Worden 2000:71). These were all attempts by black people to regain their sense of identity and solidarity, in a radically different environment. 

During this time, women who had enjoyed financial independence by selling home-brewed beer from their homes - called “shebeens” - mounted a series of attacks on the government-sponsored beerhalls in the townships (Worden 2000:72) - making them the first known activists. Other protests followed in the 1940s, with labour unions flexing their muscles and causing considerable alarm amongst the white population due to the concerns of capitalists in the mining industry especially (Worden 2000:72-73).

The white perception of a growing “swart gevaar” or black peril (Worden 2000:73), led to the publication in 1946 of the Sauer Report by the National Party - later recognised as the blueprint of “apartheid” (Worden 2000:104). “Apartheid” as it was later known, was a comprehensive framework of policies and laws, to ensure total segregation of the races, and separate, unequal, development within the nation, ensuring white domination of the black majority in the country. 

The 1950 Group Areas Act was officially the first of these laws, demarcating separate areas of residence for the different races that were to be enforced (Worden 2000:108). Then followed the Reservation of Separate Amenities Act, the Bantu Education Act (Worden 2000:108) and in 1954 the Natives Resettlement Act (Worden 2000:108). 

Due to pressure from the mining industry again, which required a more flexible labour force, in 1952 the government passed the Abolition of Passes Act (Worden 2000:110). In opposition to the policies of the National Party, in 1953 the Liberal Party was founded (Worden 2000:89), and in 1955 delegates from a few political parties met for discussions that produced the Freedom Charter - a document declaring their belief that: “South Africa belongs to all who live in it, black and white, and no government can justly claim authority unless it is based on the will of the people...” (Worden 2000:119).

1.3 Intensified Action - 25 years
In 1960, the tragic Sharpeville Massacre, in which 69 unarmed people were killed, and many more wounded, resulted in international condemnation (Worden 2000:121). In the aftermath of this event, a new form of Black Consciousness was born, with the charismatic leader, Steve Biko as its spokesman (Worden 2000:131-132). 

Also, in 1961 the ANC abandoned its nonviolent tactics after much debate, and started the armed struggle - its new military wing was composed of the more radical youth, and called “Umkhonto we Sizwe” or Spear of the Nation (Worden 2000:129130). From the 1970s onwards, school riots were frequent (Worden 2000:134-135), and between 1973 and 1976 labour disputes and strikes were so common that the mining industry once more pressured the government for decisive action (Worden 2000:134-135). 

At the same time, the UN expelled South Africa from its General Assembly meetings in 1974, in what the government at the time viewed as an arbitrary and illegal move (Bureau for Information 1987:41). In 1977, the Security Council also imposed a mandatory arms embargo against South Africa (Bureau for Information 1987:41). However foreign investment continued to climb steadily, and reached R66 988 million in 1987, with US companies being the single biggest investors (Bureau for Information 1987:62).

Reacting to this international isolation, and the pressure to preserve mining interests in the country, between 1979 and 1984 the government adopted a series of policies which came to be known collectively as ‘Total Strategy’ (Worden 2000:139). This approach included military operations across the border, harsh laws against union membership and actions, and the introduction in 1983 of a Tricameral Constitution. This was aimed at winning broader support for a slightly modified form of apartheid - providing separate representation for white, coloured and Indian people, but not the 75 per cent black majority (Worden 2000:140-150). 

However, this was unsuccessful, and resulted in more violent protests - from about 1985 the clashes sparked by forced squatter removals were shown almost daily in America, as the international media focused on South Africa, and joined activists around the world in pressuring the South African government to set Mandela free (Baker 2004:87). 

For decades, the interests of international business had prevented countries, especially the USA, from taking decisive action against the South African government in the interests of human rights - “there were 284 US corporations in South Africa in 1984...billions were also invested in mutual funds and other South African securities” (Baker 2004:91). By 1987, however, Foreign Investment had shown a significant decline, which the government stubbornly attributed to “socio-political developments ...[and] a deterioration of overseas perceptions [which are] misguided and distorted” (Bureau for Information 1987:62).

2. Stalemate and Breakthrough - Preparation - 10 years
In 1984, the largest Afrikaner church, Nederduits Gereformeerde Kerk (NGK) issued a statement against apartheid, calling on its members to repent with “humility and sorrow” (Welsh 2000:485). The moderator of the NGK’s Western Synod, proclaimed:

there is no such thing as white superiority or black inferiority...all people are equal before God...there may not be under any circumstances a political policy based on oppression, discrimination and exploitation...the task of the church is to protest against unjust laws.” (Welsh 2000:485)

Meanwhile, the ANC had realised that the socialism in which it was rooted would not aid its cause internationally, and published its “Constitutional Guidelines for a Democratic Society” in 1988 (Welsh 2000:494-495). This enabled them to win the support of the Business community, who firmly opposed Apartheid (Welsh 2000:494-495). Regular meetings had been held since 1985 between Business leaders and ANC representatives like Thabo Mbeki (Welsh 2000:495).

PW Botha declared in 1985 that Mandela could be released, conditional on his abandonment of political activism, but an indignant Mandela replied:

What freedom am I being offered while the organisation of the people remains banned? What freedom am I being offered when I may be arrested on a pass offence? What freedom am I being offered to live my life as a family with my dear wife who remains in banishment in Brandfort? ...What freedom am I being offered when my very South African citizenship is not respected? Only free men can negotiate. ..I cannot and will not give any undertaking at a time when I and you, the people, are not free” (Welsh 2000:498).

In 1989, Mandela wrote a letter to PW Botha, urging him to meet and “negotiate an effective political settlement” (Welsh 2000:498). Later that year, the meeting took place, but PW Botha was on his way out of office, and it would be up to FW de Klerk to take on the challenge of negotiating a way forward for the country (Welsh 2000:499). 

The UN adopted the Harare Declaration, issued by the ANC, later that year, which spelled out steps to be taken by the South African government to ensure the lifting of sanctions (Welsh 2000:498-499). In 1990 de Klerk surprised everyone with his announcement at the opening of parliament in February 1990 that the ANC, PAC and Communist parties were to be unbanned, and political prisoners would be released - including Mandela, unconditionally (Welsh 2000:499).

In 1991 all Apartheid legislation was repealed - paving the way to earnest multi-party negotiations (Worden 2000:155). However, violence errupted all over the country in the next few months, mostly between ANC and Inkhata supporters, but accusations of government involvement abounded on all sides (Worden 2000:157-159, 508-509). When the Convention for a Democratic South Africa (CODESA) negotiations started, de Klerk tried to ensure some form of protection of minority rights in the new constitution - supported by both Afrikaners and Zulus, under Buthelezi, who refused even to attend the talks - but these hopes did not materialise (Welsh 2000:505,511). 

However, a “joint intervention” by the South African Council of Churches, the Consultative Business Movement, the Labour Unions, and most major Political Parties, ensured the beginning of a peace process, with its first step the signing of the National Peace Accord in 1991 (Eloff 1998:2). A Referendum was held in 1992, and the white population showed their support for the continuation of de Klerk’s reforms by a 69 per cent majority (Welsh 2000:511).

Even though the Nationalist government was by no means a “defeated enemy”, as Joe Slovo acknowledged (Welsh 2000:512) - with a powerful army and intelligence service at its disposal - the violence that interrupted the CODESA talks over the following months, spurred all participants on to finding a solution to the stalemate before the country was reduced to a bloodbath (Welsh 2000:512-513). 

The result of this was meaningful compromises on all sides (Worden 2000:159,161). Ultimately, these fora resulted in a new interim constitution and a transitional executive authority, with agreement to hold open elections (Bratton & Landsberg 1999:265). However the assassination of the leader of the Communist Party, Chris Hani in 1993 almost derailed these efforts (Welsh 2000:513). It took a moving speech from Mandela that same day, to unite South Africans in their desire for a peaceful transition–

Tonight, I am reaching out to every single South African, black and white, from the very depth of my being...our whole nation now teeters on the brink of disaster...Now is the time for all South Africans to stand together against those who, from any quarter, wish to destroy what Chris Hani gave his life for - the freedom of all of us” (Welsh 2000:513).

The 1994 elections were held in “uninterrupted calm” (Welsh 2000:517), to the surprise of the International community and South Africans alike, and were declared to be “substantially fair” by external observers (Bratton & Landsberg 1999:267). However, more than 15,000 people had been killed in political violence in the four years since Mandela’s release (Welsh 2000:517). Tutu later wrote of the elections:

What a profound scientific discovery it was for the whites that blacks, coloureds and indians were in fact human beings, who had the same aspirations as they did...The black person entered the booth one person and emerged on the other side a new, transfigured one. She entered weighed down by the anguish and burden of oppression...She reappeared knowing she was free, walking away with her head held high...How do you describe it to someone who was born in freedom? ...The white person entered the voting booth burdened by the guilt at having enjoyed the fruits of oppression and injustice. He too, emerged as somebody new, somebody transfigured, from whom a burden had been lifted...” (Hoppers 2000:3).

3. Transition - Reconstruction & Reconciliation

3.1 Design - first 10 years (1994-2003)
3.1.1. Socio-Political Reform
a) Constitutional reform and human rights
In its favour, South Africa’s physical infrastructure, and its production, communications, legal and banking systems were not completely shattered by the collapse of apartheid, and in that sense there was less to rebuild than most countries face after a socio-political crisis (Bratton & Landsberg 1999:261). Since 1994, the country’s “democratic roots are institutionalised...The South African government adheres to constitutional processes, boasts a vibrant press, has a strong civil society, and sustains an energetic private sector that is expanding beyond its own borders” (Baker 2004:99).

However, with the ANC now controlling a two-thirds majority in the government, and the weakening of Non-Government Organisations (NGOs) due to lack of funding after the collapse of apartheid, it has been observed that “politics for most South Africans increasingly boils down to making their cross every five years” (Mail & Guardian 4 Feb 2003:2). Also, many legislated changes have yet to be implemented - for example the equality courts had only been in operation for six months by the end of 2003, and they were still relatively unknown, with the long-awaited unit “that will trace fathers who default on maintenance payments” as legislated, still to materialise (Mail & Guardian 19 Dec 2003:11).

b) Labour rights
One of the first new pieces of legislation, the Labour Act, ensured that black workers’ rights were clearly stated and protected, with union negotiations and labour tribunals to resolve disputes (Commission for Conciliation, Mediation & Arbitration 1994:1). Further obligations on companies in the New South Africa, include:

employment equity, skills development, HIV/AIDS education and treatment, black economic empowerment, and, coming soon, mineral royalties in the mining industry - accused by the Truth and Reconciliation Commission (TRC) of having provided the blueprint for ‘grand apartheid’” (Mail & Guardian 18 April 2003:1).

However, there are also some positive incentives at the grassroots level to empower people to seize the new opportunities available. One group of former development workers started a monthly newspaper in 1996, called Big News, which is distributed for free, and sees its “editorial mission” as providing:

a sense of solidarity to those trying to gain access to a world that has historically excluded them...[and] aims to provide the vital role model needed by new business owners and to give information on management skills and opportunities” (Mail & Guardian 26 Apr 2002:1).

c) Demilitarising/ Crime reduction
The internally displaced and families that were forcibly separated, would potentially be resettled, and the youth brought back into education and work programmes, if the TRC’s Reparations committee proposals are followed (South African Department of Justice Reparations Act 1995:9). However, money has for so long been “diverted from social use to weapons, deepening inequity, feeding violence, and necessitating more repression...[a] vicious cycle”, (Adelson 2000:3), that the task of Demilitarising the culture of violence seems beyond reach at this stage. Mbeki’s challenges upon election to the Presidency in 1999–

from wiping out poverty to eliminating crime and dealing with the world’s fastest-growing HIV/AIDS crisis - were quite different [from Mandela’s], having less to do with securing human rights for blacks than with consolidating the democratic transition and making human rights meaningful in economic and social terms” (Baker 2004:98).

It is interesting to note that South Africa’s RDP Fund was R12,5 billion over five years (Bratton & Landsberg 1999:272), and at the end of 2003 had about R2,5-billion available, while the government “committed South Africa to spending between R30-billion and R60-billion (depending on who you speak to) on the arms deal” (Mail & Guardian 18 April 2003:2). 

This has caused a huge outcry in the media, except among those who do “not want to be seen to be criticising this government as their access to power and resources is dependent on supporting the agenda of this government...[however] blaming the current disillusionment of blacks mainly on racism and racist attitudes is to feed into the racial stereotyping of whites and to absolve government of all responsibility” (Mail & Guardian 5 Jan 2001: 1).

Furthermore, “crime is the soft underbelly of the RDP” (Bratton & Landsberg 1999: 298), with alarming figures that scare away foreign investors, and cause many well-educated South Africans to migrate - taking their much-needed skills with them. International donors have been hesitant to invest in strengthening the security institutions - perhaps because these were used so oppressively during the apartheid years (Bratton & Landsberg 1999:277), but this is an essential part of the peace-building process that has been neglected.

d) Participation
One of the major obstacles to peace building in South Africa, is the rebelliousness and “culture of non-payment” (Bratton & Landsberg 1999: 289), which was encouraged during the apartheid years, when the ANC leaders “tapped into the energy of the ‘youth bulge’ in the black population, youngsters who had grown up under rigid apartheid and faced a grim future in a deteriorating economy in which they were marginalised. Impatient with the docility of their parents and disdainful of the inferior black educational system, they confronted authorities as no other generation had during months of unrest that made the black townships ‘ungovernable’” (Baker 2004:86). Obeying the law, attending classes and paying for services under an apartheid government became synonymous with betraying the cause, and was punishable by death (Welsh 2000:506).

This “lost generation”, not only the “11,000 returning ex-combatants of the ANC’s armed wing” (Bratton & Landsberg 1999:262) now have to learn how to fit into society peacefully again, and contribute to rebuilding the country by being dutiful and respectful citizens. Their identity needs to be reshaped, and prospects for useful employment encouraged, so that they do not turn to crime and intimidation to survive - as many already have (Bratton & Landsberg 1999: 298). During the apartheid years, “the campaigns they organised, the bus boycotts...gave them something, their identity. Instead of being useless black children they were comrades. Their communities had a role for them” (Mail & Guardian 13 Nov 1998:2).

Nelson Mandela himself has walked the uneasy path to spiritual maturity, and “evolved from being a fiery leader of the youth wing of the ANC to a voice of racial reconciliation” (Baker 2004:86). Another consideration though, is the fact that many people have simply burnt out, after years of personal sacrifice for the cause, and since the fall of apartheid, most former activists (including the recently retired Mandela) are pursuing fulfillment through family welfare, employment and income - they are “no longer willing to bear the costs of permanent political mobilisation” (Bratton & Landsberg 1999:296).

e) Local Authorities
At the same time, the legitimacy of local-level authorities needs to be re-established in the eyes of the township community (Bratton & Landsberg 1999:262). Especially important are the current generation of youth, who are impatient and frustrated, as they have seen no immediate improvement in the quality of their lives, and many have turned to drugs and alcohol, as they feel powerless - “they were never consulted” by the architects of the new democracy (Mail & Guardian 16 Jan 2004:2). 

In the township of Kliptown, where the Freedom Charter was signed in 1955, there are still no schools - the youth are mostly unemployed, with no parks or sportsgrounds, and no taxi fare to even leave the settlement (Mail & Guardian 1 Mar 2004:1). 

The teenage pregnancy and AIDS figures are high, and the growing numbers of destitute children are heart-breaking (Mail & Guardian 1 Mar 2004:1). The elderly seem to be under the same cloud of despair and disillusionment in the townships - one lady commented sadly, “I would really like to stay here [in Kwa Mashu township]. But I don’t know whether there is anything to be hopeful of in this world. The devil is everywhere” (Mail & Guardian 16 Jan 2004:3).

3.1.2. Socio-Economic Reconstruction
Phase 1 - The Reconstruction and Development Programme
Mandela launched the White Paper for the Reconstruction and Development Programme (RDP) in 1994 by declaring:

My Government’s commitment to create a people-centred society of liberty binds us to the pursuit of the goals of freedom from want, freedom from hunger, freedom from deprivation, freedom from ignorance, freedom from suppression and freedom from fear. These freedoms are fundamental to the guarantee of human dignity...the justification and the purpose of the Reconstruction and Development Programme, without which it would lose all legitimacy” (RDP White Paper 1994:1)

The RDP was seen as:

a unique opportunity to bring about renewal, peace, prosperity, reconciliation and stability. It is the product of ongoing consultation and it enjoys widespread support from all sections of our society” (RDP White Paper 1994:1).

One of the main ideals focused on was for the RDP to be “people-driven”, with “a vibrant civil society”, “credible and effective Local Government”, “human resource and capacity development”, and the integral involvement of mass organisations and trade unions (RDP White Paper 1994:53). NGOs were also included in this vision of co-operation across all sectors of society - with possible government funding “based on their role in taking forward the RDP” (RDP White Paper 1994:50). 

The RDP was an attempt at holistic development, “recognising the interconnectedness of development, peace and security, and aiming at transformation...the embodiment of a set of values, rather than a collection of projects” (Adelson 2000:7).

Capacity building received special attention in the RDP discussion paper, with Presidential Projects proposed to explore “path-breaking approaches to consultation, participation and local control” (RDP White Paper 1994:49). Interestingly, women were to be “targeted as beneficiaries” (RDP White Paper 1994:49). There was also an initiative to “spearhead a broader empowerment programme for women, taking into account that women often represent the poorest, most exploited and most marginalised sector of our society” (RDP White Paper 1994:51). 

A rural development policy was planned, in consultation with rural people and stakeholders, with particular attention being given to “small-scale agricultural producers by ensuring access to land, appropriate markets, credit facilities, training and support” (RDP White Paper 1994:51). 

Comprehensive programmes were intended for the integration of disabled people and the removal of discriminatory practices against them, with special attention being given to “mental illness arising from trauma and violence” (RDP White Paper 1994:52). 

The needs of young people were to be addressed as well, as “our country’s most important resource” - including the “backlog in education and training, job creation and recreation” (RDP White Paper 1994:52). 

Amongst the many lead projects listed in the White Paper were - “Primary School Nutrition Scheme”, “Rural Water Provision”, “Land Reform Pilots”, “Land Restitution”, “Urban Infrastructure Investment Planning Team”, “National Urban Reconstruction and Housing Agency”, “National Literacy Programme”, “Small-Scale Farmer Development”, “Culture of Learning”, “Free Health Care”, “Clinic Building”, and “AIDS Awareness and Prevention Campaign” (RDP White Paper 1994:55-58).

In the first five years of democracy, 3 million people gained access to water, 2 million households received electricity, and over 5 million children received health care and primary school nutrition (Adelson 2000:10). The targets set for the RDP included a million new homes by 1999, “clean water, sanitation and health care for all” and “redistribution of 30 per cent of the country’s farmland” (Bratton & Landsberg 1999:268). 

The unrealistic nature of these targets was soon apparent, however, as only 10 000 houses were in fact built in the first year, 1995, and by 1998, only 60 per cent of the target were under construction (Bratton & Landsberg 1999: 288). By 1997, the RDP was widely known to have failed in delivering the expected economic development (Worden 2000:165) - the South African market had opened up “in an international business environment in which, after the fall of communism, there was a host of newly emerging alternative markets...with investors wary of the powerful labour unions, high crime rates, taxes, and an HIV/AIDS infection rate that rivalled that of any other country...” (Baker 2004:99).

Phase 2 - GEAR
In 1996, the government announced a change of course - “a self-imposed structural adjustment program known as Growth, Employment, and Redistribution (GEAR), which sought to generate jobs through foreign private investment” (Bratton & Landsberg 1999:260). This program replaced the RDP and aimed for “export-led growth, and annual GDP growth rate of at least 6 per cent...and the privatisation or streamlining of public agencies” - clearly a huge leap towards embracing neoliberal policies (Bratton & Landsberg 1999:269). By 2003, the economy had grown on average by 2,7 per cent over the previous decade - which would still mean a predicted 29 per cent unemployment rate by 2014 (Mail & Guardian 8 Aug 2003:1).

In 2002, however, 45 per cent of schools still had no electricity, 27 per cent lacked clean water, and 66 per cent had inadequate sanitation - 12 per cent of these had none (Mail & Guardian 12 Jul 2002:1). Other major issues included “undelivered textbooks, underspent budgets, violence in schools...” (Mail & Guardian 12 Jul 2002:1). By 2003, matriculation results had improved from only 47 pre cent pass rate in 1997 (Bratton & Landsberg 1999: 299), to 69 per cent (Mail & Guardian 19 Dec 2003:3). However,

when children have to walk 20km to get to school, when an unsanitary learning environment causes an outbreak of skin rashes, when hunger pangs prevent pupils from concentrating, when girls can no longer endure the sexual advances of their teachers and stop attending school, then policy alone - however progressive - is not enough” (Mail & Guardian 12 Jul 2002:1).

Small-scale agriculture has been encouraged by the introduction of regulation and government intervention to favour black farmers and control food prices (Mail & Guardian 14 Jun 2002:1). However, the problems preventing these incentives from generating a thriving industry, run much deeper–

What is possible with a little land, waste water and composting is astonishing. Given the combination of unemployment, food, poverty, nutritional needs and relatively large unused gardens in townships seems obvious what should happen. Yet it doesn’t ...have all the technical concerns been addresses, without cultural and perceptual blockages being ironed out? Is it a problem of ownership of the solution, or have people just become too disconnected with the land?” (Madhvani 2003:3).

In 2003, 5 million people in South Africa still lacked access to basic water supply, and 18 million people were living without adequate sanitation (Mail & Guardian 19 Dec 2003:9). It has become glaringly apparent that in the areas of capacity-building and policy-making, South Africa has developed a thriving industry of experts - but as far as the actual delivery of material goods and services, programmes are not succeeding (Bratton & Landsberg 1999: 289). 

The ANC’s uncomfortable position in the first decade of democracy, is that it is “seeking to deliver an expanded range of services even as it radically revises the structure and composition of the state. This juggling act has been aptly likened to ‘moving the furniture into a new house before you have finished building it’” (Bratton & Landsberg 1999: 298).

Future Challenges - Corruption
Allegations of ANC corruption, and the unfathomable support given to Mugabe in Zimbabwe despite his rigged elections and lawless land seizures, have “tarnished the image of South Africa as a government wedded to human rights and good governance” (Baker 2004:99). The issue is very much tied up with old loyalties though, like old partners in the struggle against white domination - and corruption is often only a few steps away from the meeting of family obligations, which is such an important part of African custom (Korten 1990:52). Winnie Madikizela-Mandela and Allan Boesak were both convicted of serious crimes, including fraud, theft and kidnapping, and still retained the support and adulation of the masses - because they are viewed as legends of the struggle (Woods 2003:198-199). 

However, in a country where millions live lives of poverty and suffering, such selfish greed is hard to excuse - power is a sacred gift:

not ...a club to be used in the service of personal aggrandisement, but rather as a gift to be held in stewardship to the service of the community and the human and spiritual fulfillment of all people - especially the powerless” (Korten 1990:168).

3.1.3. Socio-Psychological and Cultural Rebuilding
When the Truth and Reconciliation Commission (TRC) started in 1995 (Worden 2000:166-167), the Promotion of National Unity and Reconciliation Act, proclaimed its goals to be:

National unity, the well-being of all South African citizens and peace ...reconciliation between people of South Africa and the reconstruction of society...there is a need for understanding but not vengeance, a need for reparation but not for retaliation, a need for ubuntu but not for victimisation” (South African Department of Justice Promotion of National Unity and Reconciliation Act 1995:1).

South Africa could not follow the pattern of the Nuremberg trials, as “it had to balance the requirements of justice, accountability, stability, peace and reconciliation” (Hoppers 2000:5). The Commission encouraged accountability, and those who did not admit to their crimes were not granted amnesty (Hoppers 2000:5). The Commissioners were not only hearing evidence and testimonies, but encouraging truth, recognition and compassion - vital steps towards restoring the body politic (Mail & Guardian 21 March 2003:1). The suffering and sacrifices of at least 30 years of conflict and struggle was publicly recorded and acknowledged, with 21 000 witnesses (Mail & Guardian 21 March 2003:1) contributing to this cathartic release of a Nation (Welsh 2000:524).

Forgiveness has to begin with memory...historical truth is not the whole of justice, but it is the indispensable beginning...” (Shriver & Lean 2001:1).

However, not all sectors of society responded favourably to the TRC hearings, or the final report, published in - the extreme right-wing Afrikaners of the AWB, as well as the black extremists in the PAC, refused to claim amnesty by fully disclosing their past deeds, so many were sentenced to serve prison sentences. de Klerk’s repeatedly stated that he “accepted overall responsibility for the period of his leadership and, together with the Cabinet and the State Security Council, accepted joint responsibility for all the decisions that they took and the instructions that they gave...” (Mail & Guardian 9 May 2003:1).

Yet he was mercilessly targetted by the media and the TRC. The government of National Unity split in 1996, when the New National Party left in protest at the treatment of former President FW de Klerk by the commission (Mail & Guardian 21 March 2003:2).

More surprisingly, the ANC government reacted with horror when the commission passed judgement on ANC violations of human rights during the years of struggle - such as the use of torture in its detention camps, and the planting of bombs (Woods 2003:194) - condemning them as firmly as they had criticised the NP government’s oppressive tactics (Mail & Guardian 21 March 2003:2). It is even suggested that the reason the ANC is dragging its heals in paying the recommended reparations to those the TRC determined were victims of human rights violations, is due to Mbeki’s resentment towards this “attack” (Mail & Guardian 21 March 2003:2). This shirking of responsibility contradicts the spirit in which the Reparations Act was written–

the present government has accepted that it must deal with the things the previous government did and that it must therefore take responsibility for reparation” (South African Department of Justice Reparations Act 1995:1).

By 2003, the government was calling on all South Africans to:

follow their conscience and contribute to the President’s Fund, which will pay the one-off reparation grants of R30 000 to about 22,000 survivors of gross human rights abuses” (Mail & Guardian 17 April 2003:2).

Earlier proposals by the TRC to impose a wealth tax on businesses to provide funds for reparations, were roundly rejected by Mbeki (17 April 2003:1-2), in a surprising move that many feel showed the government’s true loyalties as being “focused on the ideological fundamentals of the new order: a market economy, black empowerment and poverty alleviation - though not erradication” (Mail & Guardian 25 April 2003:2). 

However, another way of looking at it is that the government is “caught between the requirements of the international community, and the social demands of the mass of the people. All these represent the tension between reconciliation and social justice, to the point where they become contradictory, and even irreconcilable” (Hoppers 2000:7).

3.1.4. Spiritual Healing/ Reconciliation Journey
a) Traditional African Justice
Restorative Justice has been discussed by many, including Archbishop Desmond Tutu, as the preferable alternative to Retributive Justice, where “the offender pays his (or her) debt to society, but victims are left out of the equation. Moreover, imprisonment undoubtedly has a dehumanising effect on inmates, who are then almost certain to reoffend (if they do not die of AIDS)” (Douglas 2004:2).

Traditional African concepts of Justice and peace building often involve the tribal or village elders in communal “dialogue, meditation, relationship and community-based approaches”, with “reconciliation and forgiveness...the most important factor of good neighbourliness” (Lutheranworld 2002:1). Elders usually establish the root causes of the conflict at a gathering of the whole village, and a punishment is then carefully prescribed, and evaluated in terms of its ability to establish harmony and peace (Lutheranworld 2002:2). In most cases, the restoration of relationships in the community is the key focus, and in some parts of Africa this is reinforced by closing the proceedings with “beer ...shared by both parties and the council of elders, followed by a feast” (Lutheranworld 2002:2). In addition, “rituals and taboos have been put in place to protect the sanctity of life and the dignity of human beings” (Lutheranworld 2002:2).

b) Ubuntu
There is much discussion in the New South Africa of “Ubuntu” - “A person is a person through other people” (Adelson 2000:5). This African value stresses relationship and community, “mutual identification, empathy and respect for all” (Adelson 2000:5).

A person is said to have ‘ubuntu’ if they are caring, generous, hospitable and compassionate. It means that my humanity is caught up and is inextricably bound in yours - in other words, we belong in a bundle of life...I am human because I belong. Harmony, friendliness and community are the greatest good” (Hoppers 2000:5).

However, the reality is that most white South Africans are not included in this idealistic vision - a recent poll by the Institute for Justice and Reconciliation revealed that 61 per cent “believe that their children have little future in their own country” (Mail & Guardian 9 May 2003:2). One of the main reasons for this insecurity in the white community is the picture painted, by the government, the TRC and some media voices, that:

whites...should not really be viewed as the co-creators of the new South Africa with an honourable place at the table. Instead, they should be seen as a discredited and unjustifiably privileged minority whose only proper role in the new South Africa should be as supplicants for forgiveness and payers of reparations...This is deeply regrettable because it robs white South Africans of the feeling of belonging and enthusiastic participation that they felt in the heady days of 1994” (Mail & Guardian 9 May 2003:2).

c) Culture of Inclusion
These views feed on stereotypes of black people in the anti-apartheid struggle being essentially good, “because their cause was just”, while white people were all “more or less evil” - despite the 69 per cent vote in favour of reform in the referendum of 1991 (Mail & Guardian 9 May 2003:2). There were also many examples of white people fighting apartheid in nonviolent ways, for example the Black Sash protests by groups of middle-class women, who stood in silence outside Parliament buildings, wearing black sashes to show solidarity with their fellow South Africans who had no voice in the nation’s government (Welsh 2000:452). 

During the black consciousness movement of the 1960s, Biko eloquently voiced the need for inclusion - “the black man must reject all value systems that seek to make him a foreigner in the country of his birth and reduce his basic human dignity” (Mail & Guardian 23 Dec 1999:5). The current situation in South Africa has similar echoes of this sentiment, in reverse - for white people are now being made to feel unwelcome in the land of their birth. African writer and psychologist, N Chabani Manganyi, unveiled the depth of this divide–

“'the question of impunity is a big issue. There’s a psychological hurdle where people are supposed to move on in terms of change. On a superficial level, it’s working. But there’s a grim silence in society about what each one of us is really going through.’ The TRC had a strong ethos of reconciliation, understandably...but the leaders of the negotiation process had ‘frozen the outer limits of what was possible, speakable’” (Mail & Guardian 29 April 2004:3).

d) Humour
Humour has long been known to be beneficial and uplifting, but recent theories of the “usefulness of humour” have also pointed to its use in adapting to uncomfortable and even oppressive situations, as a means of channeling our emotions in a controllable and inoffensive manner, and enabling people to raise ‘taboo’ topics safely, or even to discuss important cultural truths with foreigners, and without risking reprisals from oppressive governments (Williams 2001:492-495). 

Humility contributes to humour and to a realisation that a willingness to make concessions is a sign of strength not weakness. In such negotiations the prospect of recovering our humanity can be realised” (Tutu 2003:9). Humour can be used to defuse tensions and re-establish relationship with the community (Rees 2003:281). 

South Africans, like most nations, have their own unique sense of humour - and the black people are especially jovial and light-hearted, considering the suffering they have experienced. “Jokes are also a way to reassert one’s humanity in the face of the inhuman” (Williams 2001:493), and this is perhaps one of the most striking and memorable aspects of the African character - their huge smiles, love of music, singing, dancing and joking, no matter how harsh the daily realities of African life. 

During Nelson Mandela’s trial in 1963, the courtrooms were filled with ANC supporters “singing and chanting” (Rees 2003:172). Humour also establishes common ground between people, often cutting across cultural barriers, and bringing out a child-like playfulness and self-deprecation -essential to counter cynicism in negotiations. Many examples of this attempt to encourage mutual understanding already exist in South Africa - the Madam & Eve cartoons have been quietly commenting on South African society since the decline of apartheid, and throughout the first decade of democracy.

3.2 From Design to Outcome - 2004 and beyond
3.2.1 Identity and the African Renaissance
In 2004, the elections were scheduled for April 14th, “the tenth anniversary of democracy” - which was seen by most South Africans as an attempt to:

make best use of this amazing historical backdrop to distract from more annoying current difficulties, such as AIDS, unemployment, corruption, political scandals and incompetence...all the usual suspects” (Madhvani 2004:3).

It has been pointed out that a country in transition must give the new government some leeway, and:

should (initially at least) be indulgent of shortcomings...[however] ten years seems more than adequate for the end of government probation. South Africans can now raise the bar for government performance and develop zero tolerance for sloppiness among public officials” (Mail & Guardian 9 Jan 2004:3).

In a review of the Minister of Public Service in 2003, it was concluded that “after ten years of capacity development programmes the minister needs to take a close look at why the public service still cannot take care of its own needs” - relying instead on costly outside consultants (Mail & Guardian 19 Dec 2003:9). As one foreign mission worker with the Quakers observed wryly,

This antipathy to work is a South African disease, and corruption and dishonesty are rife...Officials, generally, are idle, corrupt, and rude - regardless of racial origin...[and] a white foreigner is expected to give all the time, and never to receive...” (Douglas 2003:1-2).

Yet Mbeki has repeatedly declared the birth of an “African Renaissance...used to mean many things, some contradictory, but all refer to reclamation of a past destroyed by history, and all project into a future of African reemergence and reassertion - cultural, economic and political” (Adelson 2000:6).

The government also expressed stern disapproval of the international lawsuits being filed against multinational companies “that profited from apartheid”, preferring instead to engage with the business sector in a series of talks to “determine how it could best contribute to reconstruction” (Mail & Guardian 17 April 2003:1). Mbeki condemned the TRC’s recommendations to pursue legal settlements, and the Minister of Trade and Industry criticised the legal proceedings as “ the...unsound law...of another land to undermine our sovereign right to settle our past and build our future as we see fit” (Mail & Guardian 17 April 2003:2). 

However, multi-billion dollar class actions have been brought against 21 international companies by Jubilee 2000 and Khulumani, after “four years of lobbying foreign banks to write off apartheid debt as a form of reparation” failed (Mail & Guardian 17 April 2003:2). Mbeki’s protests are reminiscent of Steve Biko’s message in the 1960’s that “We must stop looking to the white man to give us something...We have to create our own future!” (Woods 2003:230).

Furthermore, the Mbeki government seems uncomfortable when faced with newly-empowered critics of government policy, exercising their democratic right to comment and protest–

It tends to express derision for those who do not share its view of the world...[and] can be overly sensitive and defensive about the cacophony that is often our democracy” (Mail & Guardian 25 April 2003:2).

Mbeki has often been cited in the press, making paranoid accusations and oblique references to “some in our country” who are said to be “actively promoting the failure of the democratic project” and he has defiantly stated that:

As long as we remain liberation fighters, so long will we refuse to be told by others, including these historic opponents and others, what we should think or do” (Mail & Guardian 15 Oct 2003:2).

This shows an unfortunate mindset in the new government that has not yet made the transition from fighting for liberation, to leading a fledgling democracy through its first baby steps. Moreover, he lacks Mandela’s charm and conciliatory spirit - often causing division in the “rainbow country” through divisive remarks like the one made at the Human Rights Commission Conference in 2000–

racism organised our society in such a manner that the black oppressed could not possibly have a way of distinguishing between those who elected to enforce a racist system, and those who were the involuntary beneficiaries of may not have been against us, which we only know from what you say, but you were not with us...” (Mail & Guardian 1 Sep 2000:1).

Unfortunately, although the majority of South Africans have experienced improvements in their daily existence in the last decade of democracy, there has also been a rising new class of elites, many of whom finance their ostentatious lifestyles through corruption (Mail & Guardian 25 April 2003:3). Interviews with ordinary citizens reveal disappointment and disillusionment –a woman confined to a wheelchair after being shot during the uprisings in Soweto which started on June 16, 1976, said:

some people say there has been a change in South Africa, but I can’t see it...the schools in Soweto still have no facilities. If the government was really interested in us they would sit down and talk to us and listen to our needs

She also expressed disapproved of the government’s “day of celebration” announced in honour of the uprisings, saying that:

since 1994 this noble day has lost its meaning. Instead of being commemorated in a dignified way...the present government is undermining and insulting our painful history. For us June 16 will always be a solemn day, the day we changed the face of the revolution, a day of courage” (Mail & Guardian 10 Oct 2003:2).

In other areas, people have complained about a perceived favouring of ANC supporters in distributing the benefits of freedom–

When we signed the peace treaty with the ANC, it was not because we were scared of them. We don’t mind a return to war if necessary” said one IFP supporter (Mail & Guardian 16 Jan 2004:1). 

How well-founded these accusations are, or how viable such a war would be, is not certain, but these widely-held beliefs certainly undermine efforts at peace building in the country. The African population remains divided, and Mbeki’s “African Renaissance” is out of reach of the majority of his government’s supporters - revealing that it has lost touch with its grassroots beginnings.

3.2.2 Women as Contributors to Peace building - not merely passive victims
This is not just a question of equity or fairness. We know that bringing women to the peace table improves the quality of agreements reached and increases the chance of success in implementing, just as involving women in post-conflict governance reduces the likelihood of returning to war. Reconstruction works best when it involves women as planners, implementers, and beneficiaries. The single most productive investment in revitalising agriculture, restoring health systems, reducing Infant mortality, and improving other social indicators after conflict is in women’s and girl’s education. Further, insisting on full accountability for actions against women during conflict is essential for the re-establishment of rule of law” (Steinberg 2003:1).

While it is important not to generalise or idealise the role of women too much, the neglect of women’s perspectives in development and peace building can account for many of the gaps that exist between policy ideals and their implementation. South Africa needs to be reunited as a people, with a common vision - and women have a wealth of unique giftings to contribute towards this dimension of society. Women care. Women listen. Women bond. Women nurture. Women do. Women forgive (more readily). Women have had to learn to persevere and patiently endure. Women fight to protect the weak, and include the unpopular.

At the World Summit for Sustainable Development, held in Johannesburg in 2002, programs for clean water, sanitation, hygiene, small-scale agriculture, housing and a $15 billion program to fight AIDS in Africa and the Caribbean were announced - all of which directly impact women, and their children (Steinberg 2003:3).

In some parts of South Africa, children left at home while their parents are at work are “eating sand and water to make their bellies feel full enough to let them sleep” (Douglas 2003:1). The first National Census revealed that 30 per cent (12 million people) lacked access to safe water and more than 60 per cent had no electricity (Adelson 2000:3). More recent figures have revealed that:

close to a third of South Africa’s estimated 13,4-million children work, mostly on farms and in family estimated 19 000 children, excluding street children, beg in public for at least 3 hours a week...about 432 000 children aged between 5 and 17...said they performed unpaid household chores for 14 hours or more a week” (Mail & Guardian 31 May 2002:1).

Women of Vision is also helping women in South Africa fight Domestic Violence (Steinberg 2003:4) - a huge problem in South Africa, as male aggression was turned on vulnerable women in the home when no satisfactory outlet could be found for their frustrations in an oppressive environment under apartheid. 

During the uprisings of the 1980s, violence was commonplace, but one incident serves to illustrate the brutality that was directed specifically towards women - when a group of youths ‘necklaced’ a suspected police informant, they not only placed the tyre filled with petrol around her, and ignited it, but also beat her, stoned her, then stripped her and shoved a broken bottle into her vagina (Welsh 2000:488). If only such stories were the exception, rather than an indicator of something seriously wrong in the very fabric of a society! 

Similarly, recent work in South African prisons by Quaker groups has resulted in “a growing recognition that the violence encountered in prisons often begins in a domestic setting” (Madhvani 2003:1). Quaker groups have also helped form weekly support groups for women who have been abused or raped, or whose children have been raped (Douglas 2003:2). This is a growing problem in South Africa

“[the] rape capital of the world, where children and even babies are most often the victims. A combination of factors, no doubt, are at work: disempowered men, disillusioned and jobless in the post-Apartheid era...An attitude to women that classes them as a commodity to be sold in exchange for cattle...A culture of violence, where human life has little value...the myth about sex with a virgin being a cure for AIDS...” (Douglas 2004:1).

Women need to rise up, as their silence is robbing the nation of a substantial portion of its voice and conscience. A world dominated exclusively by men is like a room full of unruly football-players - the very entrance of a woman encourages restraint and a return to decent behaviour. The gentle voice of a mother has guided most men towards maturity and respect for others, and many a wife has counselled her husband in the art of sensitivity and compromise. 

Peace is a practical lifestyle, as much as it is an ideal, so a “culture of peace” can be encouraged through everything “from child-rearing to economic structures” - and in a country like South Africa, this is especially important in counteracting the violence which for years has had a particularly negative impact on women and children (Adelson 2000:8). Women have a unique and essential contribution to make towards a lasting peace that suffuses every aspect of everyday living. Unfortunately not many virtuous role models have existed in South Africa in the past - with the infamous Winnie Madikizela-Mandela proclaiming in 1986 that:

together, hand-in-hand with our sticks and matches, with our necklaces [a gruesome way of burning someone to death with a tyre around them], we shall liberate this country” (Mail & Guardian 23 Dec 1999:5).

More recently, however, inspirational stories are surfacing - like the group of women in Kalk Bay, who recently invested in a fishing licence and boat together, and are planning to donate all the money made to the local school and to buy a van to transport the pensioners to and from the local hospital (Mail & Guardian 3 May 2002:3). There have been calls from around the globe, to form alliances between women of different backgrounds, to combat not only male domination, but aggressive and destructive behaviour in all its manifestations - as such alliances are more valuable than development projects handed down from ‘experts’ (Simmons 2003:253). However, many still view the advancement of Women’s interests as:

the ‘soft side’ of foreign policy...[but] there is nothing ‘soft’ about...holding...human rights violators accountable for their actions against women, forcing demobilised soldiers to refrain from domestic violence, or insisting that women have a seat at the table in peace negotiations and post-conflict governments” (Steinberg 2003:4).

3.2.3 Deeper: Analysis and Understanding
Brown attributes the potential success or failure of peace building to three core concerns - good governance, economic growth and stability, and a dynamic civil society or community (Brown in Miall et al.1999:91). Yet,

“the actualities of African state and non-state foreign policy/ international relations/ political economy are in great flux as both global and local contexts continue to evolve...neither analyses nor policies towards them have really kept pace with the actual shifts in the relationships among states, companies and civil societies...such trilateral relations can lead backwards towards authoritarian or anarchic regimes as well as forwards towards peace-keeping/-building, let alone human security or development” (Shaw 2003:14).

Radical Africanists like Claude Ake have also challenged “the very idea that liberal democracy is democracy at all” - as its strong link to capitalism makes it “an elitist, rather than a mass-democratic, order” (Mail & Guardian 9 Jan 2004:1). Furthermore, historians have commented on the inaccuracy and oversimplification of viewing the black people of South Africa “as passive recipients of oppression, rather than as active agents in conflict” (Mail & Guardian 21 March 2003:2).

Achille Mbembe, an African writer, argues that both Marxism and Nationalism in Africa have failed as they are “faked philosophies” and are premised on the belief that “the African cannot express himself or herself other than as a wounded and traumatised subject” (Mail & Guardian 29 April 2004:2).

Another African writer, Njabulo Ndebele, brings a reminder that from the female point of view–

we could not always blame the oppressor. When oppressed black men abuse their women and children, there is a limit to which they can blame oppression for their cruelty. Even the oppressed have to learn to accept responsibility for their actions. That is where their freedom begins” (Mail & Guardian 29 April 2004:5).

Grief and trauma counselling was offered as part of the National reconciliation and healing process. However, many critics felt that “the TRC’s emphasis on forgiveness and restorative justice was at odds with more popular ethics of retribution and punishment” (Mail & Guardian 21 March 2003:2). Some people still seem to feel that the healing process, and final closure, require that justice be executed first - and that “we’ve buried too much of our sense of rectitude” (Mail & Guardian 15 Mar 2003:2). 

Despite the majority of black people, as well as a narrow majority of white people surveyed in 1996, expressing support for the TRC, and hope for a peaceful future as a result of this process (Mail & Guardian 21 March 2003:2), views expressed in the media have often been critical and even mocking. One of Africa’s renowned scholars, Ali Mazrui refers scornfully to “Africa’s short memory of hate” (Hoppers 2000:6) - although most would agree that this, at least, is a reason to hope for peaceful co-existence in the future of South Africa.

The new South Africa has chosen a pluralist and open model for the future - “with the impetus of a new paradigm transcending borders, to become an African perspective, differing from the dominant Western view in its emphasis on community and relationship” (Adelson 2000:5).

As we approach the end of the first decade of democracy, we may have to accept that South Africa is no exception to the rule that human development has never proceeded in a straight line, that we will never all agree with each other...Wherever we stand, we must think beyond our comfortable intellectual worlds, without fear of engaging with different positions and without labelling those who hold them" (Mail & Guardian 25 April 2003:3).

3.2.4 Longer: Planning and Vision
The government has recruited experienced people from NGOs, unions and universities, resulting in:

a remarkable ability to generate visionary policy pertaining to virtually every dimension of its operations, but technical ability to implement programs lags far behind...” (Adelson 2000:9). 

It has also been noted that South Africans have developed “a culture of negotiation” - expertise in negotiation at all levels, which will definitely prove useful in the future (Adelson 2000:10). “The traditional African view of time is much more extended than the Western, with ancestors considered present, and elders’ views respected” (Adelson 2000:4). As Galtung pointed out, holistic approaches, which result in small advances on multiple levels, are still preferable to making a giant leap in just one direction - which could result in gross imbalances (Adelson 2000:1).

As a visual representation of this understanding, Adelson uses the three-dimensional cross of mythical Christianity - comparing its lateral dimension to space-time, “which includes nature, society, and sensed reality” (Adelson 2000:2). As with most complex situations, one is only able to understand reality in South Africa in relation to time -the longitudinal axis refers to contemplation of both past events and future ideals in “shaping present acts” (Adelson 2000:2). Finally, the vertical axis “concerns morality, ...and critical awareness of a situation. ‘Consciousness-raising’, particularly important in the new South Africa, aptly suggests the vertical” (Adelson 2000:2). 

The present moment is where all three axes intersect, producing interesting opportunities for reflection and creative thinking - as Allister Sparks declares - “tomorrow is another country” (Adelson 2000:2).

3.2.5 Higher: Consciousness and Spiritual Awakening
Since eighty per cent of South Africans are Christians (Welsh 2000:524), spiritual beliefs play an important role in peace building and hope for the future. Key actors in the reconstruction of the Nation - from Tutu and Mandela to the many church-based NGOs, finding inspiration and strength in their faith–

far from being helpless victims of terror...had an integrity and sense of commitment which brought out the best of humanity within them” (Adelson 2000:5).

Affirming their Christian roots, the anthem of liberation used during the long years of struggle, is a Christian hymn (‘Nkosi Sikelel’i Afrika’ - God Bless Africa), and has now become the National anthem. Mandela’s own decision to emerge from the long years of imprisonment with no bitterness, but instead to learn how to let “careful thought rule over strong emotions” is a remarkable inspiration for all - “making peace became my priority. It is the object of my energy” (Rees 2003:112).

Mandela called the work of the TRC “not reconciliation, but rather the basis for it” (Adelson 2000:1). Forgiveness should be viewed as:

a start towards reconciliation, as an agreement between parties to put their feet on the same road in the future, to begin to treat each other as neighbours again, but all under that caution that some evils take a long time to recover from” (Shriver & Lean 2001:2).

Kriesberg sees peace building as a journey taken from the starting point of Truth and Justice, followed by Forgiveness and Healing, and arriving at Peace, Security and Wellbeing (Kriesberg in Miall et al.1999:209). 

The 1993 constitution of the Coalition Government of National Unity spoke of “a bridge between a troubled past and a hopeful future” (Adelson 2000:1). Albie Sachs described the TRC’s role as “putting everyone on the same map” (Adelson 2000:2). Forgiveness is just the beginning of spiritual growth, and the pursuit of higher ideals than merely protecting human rights because of legal and constitutional obligations. The TRC’s final report called for a series of what it called “Moral Summits”, to deliberate on:

 “moral failure and how to regain moral aid long- term, sustainable transformation, as South Africans carry out what Mandela calls ‘reconstruction and development of the soul’” (Adelson 2000:5).

3.2.6 Wider: Solidarity and Pluralism
A new basis for National Identity, Solidarity and Unity needs to be found - contrary to the separation of Apartheid, which was the unnatural imposition of a system which bound “white and black together in a web of mutual destructiveness” (Adelson 2000:2). In the past, “peace” merely meant the absence of direct violence, which was an artificial situation enforced by the Ministry of “Law and Order”, and maintaining the status quo (Adelson 2000:1) or institutionalised violence. “Development” was governed by race too - “capitalism and apartheid combined to produce extraordinary inequality unmatched virtually anywhere else” (Adelson 2000:3).

The “separateness”, division and isolationism of the old order must be replaced by a celebration of pluralism, shared interests and mutually working towards peace and human development, as uniquely defined and designed by South Africans of all backgrounds. People-centred development must, by very definition, “produce sustainable and justly distributed improvements in their quality of life consistent with their own aspirations” (Korten 1990:67).

It is important to remember, though, that South Africa needs external input and partnership to achieve these lofty goals–

just as ‘it takes a village to raise a child’, it takes a world to create a culture of peace and human-centred development for South Africa” (Adelson 2000:11).

The annual donor consultations already held with the government are only scratching the surface in terms of their potential as fora for mutual learning and creative problem-solving. Important changes, like the RDP Fund Act, which streamlined government procedures for the flow of foreign aid, were encouraged through these talks (Bratton & Landsberg 1999:283), and the co-ordination and tracking of programme funds and discussion of issues (Bratton & Landsberg 1999:281). This is essential - to ensure efficient delivery of stated programme outcomes. However, their full potential is yet to be seized - to produce holistic, practicable and organic alternatives to pre-packaged first world solutions.


Search in your past for what is good and beautiful. Build your future from there” -Paul Kruger, 1902 (Mail & Guardian 23 Dec 1999:1).

We change the past when we commit ourselves to preserving the good in the past and refusing to repeat its evil” (Shriver & Lean 2001:2).

South Africa’s past has been re-examined through the TRC, and even the RDP, with all its unrealistic expectations, is now in the past. The present includes the GEAR programme for socio-economic development, and many grassroots initiatives organised by the government, NGOs and international partnerships. The future the visionaries in South Africa are aiming for is a “Rainbow Nation” - Mandela, in his inaugural speech in 1994, declared that: 

We enter into a covenant that we shall build a society in which all South Africans, both black and white, will be able to walk tall, without any fear in their hearts, assured of their inalienable right to human dignity - a rainbow nation at peace with itself and the world” (Mail & Guardian 23 Dec 1999:6).

Until every person is assured a voice and a place in the country’s future, and every race and culture is respected and valued for its contribution to this ‘rainbow nation’, South Africa will not fully realise its potential as a Nation. A “culture of inclusion” needs to be nurtured (Snow 2003:359) - a safe communal place where humans can express their unique giftedness, creating meaningful encounters with other humans and sharing their individual perspectives - to create a rich tapestry of colour and texture that embraces difference and pluralism. South Africa has attained liberty and equality, but fraternity will be more difficult, as it has to grow naturally – no policies or programmes can be superimposed upon the population to force them to adopt a spirit of “ubuntu”.

South Africa, like most nations undergoing political, economic, social and spiritual transformation, needs to hold onto a vision that is deeper, longer, higher and wider than the current neoliberal policies alone can provide. Deeper understanding and analysis – to rebuild fractured communal identities; longer timelines – to encourage vision and participation; higher levels of consciousness and spirituality – to enable forgiveness; and wider solidarity - to ensure pluralism and inclusion.


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