Despite numerous recent transitions to democracy in Africa (prompting references to an ‘African Renaissance,’ and a ‘New African Century’), poorly managed conflict continues to haunt the continent, and defy development initiatives and projects promoting good governance (Dejo 2003; Makgoba 1999). Would-be democratic factions throughout the continent find it difficult to meaningfully express their demands, at times resorting to violence as a means of highlighting their concerns. Such calculations feed into the perpetuation of conflict at supra-national, national and sub-national levels. According to Richard Cornwell, conflict might well be the ‘default setting’ for many African countries and regions.1
South Africa, despite its problems in terms of high crime levels and lack of government service delivery, has long been seen as something of a success story in terms of the management of multi-ethnic conflict and the deployment of coherent interventions which seem to constitute substantive policy lessons to Africa and other transitional societies. The main driver behind this perception is the role of South Africa’s Truth and Reconciliation process. Despite this, however, we argue that the interventions associated with the transition are also problematic. In retrospect, they appear to be ad hoc and fail to take full account of the depth and dynamics of social conflict. There is much evidence that conflict in South Africa is still deeply-rooted, notably, the August 2012 events at Marikana. This is not to say that conflict is wholly intractable in South Africa, but that more integrated and systemic sets of measures should have been put in place. Such measures would be informed by the schools of thought linked with the writings of Burton and his colleagues in the Analytical Conflict Resolution perspective (Bradshaw 2007).
The Events at Marikana
On 16 August 2012, after some days of labor unrest precipitated by wage demands, police action at the Lonmin Platinum mine at Marikana resulted in the deaths of 34 protesting miners. In that troubled week, total deaths numbered 43, with many others injured.
The incident seemed to shock the country, and many parallels have been drawn to some of the worst atrocities of the apartheid era. Indeed this was the single worst incidence of public violence since the advent of democracy in South Africa in 1994. Some have called it ‘The ANC’s Sharpeville.’ In fact, the events at Marikana should not have come as a shock at all. According to Frankel (21 October 2012):
‘The irony, of course, is that Marikana is more than just an unfortunate event. It is, in fact, the result of a process of degenerative civil society in the North West and other provinces that back-dates to 1994.’
Conflict theory makes a distinction between what are called proximate and ultimate causes of conflict episodes (Mayer 2000). Ultimate causes refer to the underlying, longer-term conditions that give rise to overt conflict. Proximate causes, on the other hand, refer to those specific incidents that provide the proverbial spark to the powder keg. Johan Galtung captures these distinctions in his own differentiation between conflict behaviour, attitudes and structures in conflict (1990). Marikana should not come as a surprise, because it is the result of structural, as well as attitudinal factors; of ultimate causes as much as proximate causes.
The massacre represents the confluence of a number of the fault lines that we have mentioned above. It is a direct outflow of frustrations within the labor movement, and within the governing alliance more generally, with increasing worker dissatisfaction with COSATU, the major alliance partner, and the shocking conditions, and poor salaries that still prevail within the industry. A seemingly uncaring and disengaged mine management exacerbated the situation still further.
Perceived linkages between senior government figures and the mine management seemed to add fuel to the fire post-incident. Cyril Ramaphosa, a former Labour leader in his own right, was at the time a member of the Lonmin Board. He is alleged to have urged a strong response to the miners by the police. According to Khadija Patel (Daily Maverick: 2013), the transcript of a meeting that was held between the South African Police Service and Lonmin management two days before the massacre explicitly mentions Ramaphosa ‘pressuring’ Police Minister Nathi Mthethwa, indicating that Ramaphosa’s call for appropriate action was not an isolated act of political interference. He also used inflammatory language, referred to the miners as ‘dastardly criminal’(SABC News Online 2014).
With respect to the ultimate and ongoing causes of the disaster, high levels of inequality and continuing failures of service delivery contribute to the miserable conditions in the Marikana community. This is amply borne out by Philip Frankel’s graphic depictions of the degraded environment at Marikana:
The whole area… is profoundly polluted and both unliveable and unminable in many places. This is the direct result of ecologically destructive policies by companies like Lonmin whose activities impact negatively on water, air quality and ultimately on people. The role of the state in all of this is highly salient and reflects problems of local government and the justice system, which reflect poorly on a country that claims to be stable, effective and democratic twenty years after 1994. Local government …is notoriously corrupt, overtly murderous and, much like local government nation-wide, almost totally incapacitated (Frankel 2012).
A proximate cause was the poor response by police officers who, according to many eye-witnesses, and expert commentary, was designed to maximize, rather than minimize loss of life and injury among the mineworkers. Fallout after the incident included hurtful comments from the new police commissioner (Sowetan 2013), and a low-key, seemingly unsympathetic response from government, which allowed space for divisive, populist leaders, such as Julius Malema to fill that leadership vacuum.
Marikana represents a ‘perfect storm’ of ingredients for conflagration in the South African body politic, but it should be seen as possibly presaging future events, rather than as an anomaly.
Shortcomings of the South African Peace Process
In the 1980s, as historical contradictions mounted, and as the international context became more favorable toward a settlement in South Africa, a number of initiatives were launched to prepare the way for a constitutional negotiation process. While the ANC leadership covertly met with prominent Afrikaner intellectuals, a ‘back channel’ of communications was opened up with Nelson Mandela, with a view to his eventual release.2 All this activity conforms quite closely with the recommended strategy of the conflict resolution school, but its development was uncoordinated and ad hoc (Bradshaw 2007; Lieberfeld 2005; Kruger 1998). As violence escalated, threatening the constitutional negotiation process, organized business and the church facilitated the National Peace Accord (NPA), which produced guidelines for political engagement and established a conflict management system across the entire nation. Despite numerous challenges, the NPA succeeded in keeping violence down to manageable levels, and an overwhelmingly peaceful first election was held. Unfortunately, the Accord and its structures were hastily dissolved by the new government, in spite of the very useful range of roles that it might have potentially played in the rebuilding of the country3 (McCall and Duncan 2000; Collin Marks 2000).
Most of South Africa’s political leadership understood very clearly the need to address the longer-term, and more deeply-rooted aspects of the South African conflict, and supported the establishment of a Truth and Reconciliation Commission (TRC) modeled after an approach already used in some post-conflict Latin American countries (Campbell 2000). Everyone, from journalists to academics; from psychologists to the human rights and legal communities, had their own take on the TRC. Much of the commentary was from a religious, Christian perspective. Disappointingly, the TRC never delivered reparations at the intended scale, or within the established timeframe. Government has come in for much criticism with respect to its inability to take the TRC process to its logical conclusion, and a sense of injustice is perhaps the lasting legacy (Bradshaw 2007; Campbell 2000; Doxtader et al 2004). Also, like the NPA, the opportunity of institutionalizing the TRC as a permanent feature of the South African landscape was missed.
Rage at the End of the Rainbow
On the one hand, the achievement of the so-called miracle of transition provides cause for celebration. Like many other countries in the grip of deeply-rooted social conflict, South Africa might easily have fallen into a cycle of interethnic violence and precipitous economic decline. Although that never happened, there are a number of surprising continuities with the ethnic-separatist project of the apartheid state, along with continuing manifestations of a conflict as yet unresolved. There are a number of indicators of such incomplete resolution. These include economic policies that do not address, and even exacerbate, rampant unemployment, high levels of violence and violent policing, high levels of political intolerance, the continued construction of political and racial difference, failures to address important issues such as the unresolved land question, and attacks on political freedoms; all of which collectively threaten such peace as does exist.
At an economic level, the country has not managed to realize a ‘peace dividend’ as a result of its negotiated settlement. Despite its re-integration into the global economy, the terms of that reintegration are skewed in favor of the ruling elite and the previously wealthy (Klein 2007). South Africa’s economic inequality, as indicated by its Gini coeffient, remains the greatest in the world, along with that of Brazil.4 A range of scholars and civil society activists would see merit in Patrick Bond’s argument that post-Apartheid South Africa constitutes ‘…an unstable elite transition from racial to class apartheid’ (Bond 2005: 308)–a situation that has left massive unemployment in its wake (McGreal 2006). The unemployment rate in South Africa is still unacceptably high, particularly among youth (51 per cent unemployment rate). This differential impact leads to increased racial tensions, with many pointing to the fact that for many, ‘nothing has changed’ since the inception of democracy (Pillay 2014; Bundy 2014: 157). The South African Institute of Race Relations quotes Minister of Higher Education Blade Nzimande calling the unemployment situation a ‘ticking time bomb’ (Holborn 2011).
Furthermore, the events and revelations around the arms deal5 point to continuities between apartheid and post-apartheid elite wealth-accumulation strategies, and an accompanying pressure on democratic and judicial structures to accommodate such processes (Haines 2007; Holden 2009). While issues relevant to indigent black South Africans, including housing and social grants, may have had a somewhat sympathetic response, South African society as a whole continues to evince a bias toward the wealthy, as well as a seeming preference for organized (especially large) capital in contestations with private citizens (Bond 2005; 2006). This bias is perhaps best illustrated by the growing number of millionaires in the country. City Press (2014) reports that the number of millionaires in South Africa has grown by 106 per cent—faster than anywhere else in the world—over the past decade, to over 49,000. The continued flight of human capital, especially of whites, suggests that the link between broad economic development and social peace has not been fully internalized by the governing alliance. According to one estimate, more than a million white South Africans—that is, fully twenty percent of the pre-1994 total—are living abroad.6
Some use the fact of ever-present poverty in South Africa to explain the waves of crime that sweep the country. However, an analysis of that crime exposes behavior designed, not so much to redistribute wealth to the country’s poorest. Rather, because it is often highly-organized, with international linkages, it serves to further enrich the wealthy. This crime wave supports violence by increasing poverty in a fragile, fledgling democracy through corrupt activity and indicates not transitional justice, but transitional injustice (Gready 2010). In this regard, others have pointed to the fact that the crime has less to do with materialist considerations, than with the ‘…structure of overt political conflict preceding the inauguration of democracy, and the nature of the transition from that conflict’ (du Toit 2001: 127). Indeed, violent, rural crime is a major fault line in the country, where perceptions among the minority white landowners are that there is an attempt to remove them from the land. Du Toit has made the telling point that this is not ordinary crime, ‘…but rather crime which serves as a public statement of anger and resentment which has its roots in the denial of dignity, in the attempt to regain such dignity, and in the disillusionment of finding that the promised liberation failed to deliver either material or symbolic goods able to satisfy this need’ (2001: 127).
The state response to such crime is reactive, rather than proactive, and suggests that it has more in common with the heavy-handedness of apartheid policing than a genuinely democratic rule of law. Repeated failures of leadership at the top echelons of the South African Police Service, involving three consecutive national police commissioners—Selebi, Cele and Phiyega—suggest a certain reluctance to combat crime as a manifestation of social conflict (McGreal 2006).
Surveys7 indicate very high levels of intolerance in South African society. Political activity remains racially-based, with political parties formed largely along racial lines. Observers note the ongoing construction of racial difference, and the recurring themes of superiority and inferiority among the different racial groupings in the country (Mayer 2005). We find echoes of this in statements by government spokesman, Jimmy Manyi concerning an ‘over-supply’ of ‘Coloured People’ in the Western Cape (Sapa 2011). Further evidence of continued construction of political differences along racial lines can be found in the recently enacted Employment Equity Amendment Act (2013), which formally refers to African, White, Black, and Indian population groups (The Citizen, 8 April 2014). It is further evidenced by the ruling party’s reaction to attempts by the Democratic Alliance to recruit Agang Leader Mamphele Ramphele as their presidential candidate, in which it implies that no self-respecting black person would ever support a ‘white’ party (News 24 2014).
Conditions are compounded by the resurgence of a ‘politics of ethnicity’ that has emerged in the post-Polokwane period. Increased tensions within the governing alliance spill over into society, and dislocate efforts to build national identity and social peace (for instance, the racial video publicized by students at the University of the Orange Free State (Clayton 2008)). The recurrence of widespread xenophobic outbursts, giving rise to episodes of violence in Gauteng and in the Western and Eastern Cape, present scenes reminiscent of the apartheid era, and result in international opprobrium (Katerere 2010; City Press 2013; ENCA 2013; Powell 2013).
Violence also remains a regular theme in schools, where government is struggling to deliver a decent standard of education to the youth of South Africa, leading to a disillusioned youth with limited future options. This is also linked to a high incidence of rape within the country which, inter alia, is indicative of entrenched patriarchal views of women, and efforts to impede the socio-economic mobility of women (van Donk 2004: 10). It has been argued that the generalized fear of rape affects all women and acts to curtail their social mobility (Vogelman and Eagle 1991).
In recent years, South Africa has witnessed a number of attempts on the part of government to limit freedoms associated with a culture of human rights and due democratic process. Attacks on the freedoms of information and the independent status of the judiciary, as well as an attempt to negate the power of the opposition in local government, were a recurring theme in 2005 and 2006 (Bradshaw 2007).8 Government’s determination to pass the far-reaching Protection of State Information Bill threatens the very core of a democratic media dispensation (Hartley 2011). Although the Bill has taken almost three years to pass, and will in all probability still be challenged in the Constitutional Court, it is, in the final analysis, almost certain to be passed. The ongoing tensions within the criminal justice system, including the National Prosecutions Authority, and the bench itself, components of which support different political leaders, and whose operations seem affected by their allegiances, seem particularly troubling.9
Land reform in South Africa is also stalling, and very little land has been transferred on the basis of the ‘willing seller – willing buyer’ principle. The government has lost patience with the process, having sent white farmers in the Waterberg area notices of expropriation of their land, for instance. The International Crisis Group (2004) has linked the process of land reform with the risk of rural violence, unless the government manages to increase the pace of its process. Most recently, calls by the leadership of the ANCYL for land nationalization without compensation, and nationalization of the mines reflect the growing impatience of many South Africans with this state of affairs (Grobler 2011). Support for nationalization has become a central plank in the policy platform of Julius Malema’s newly registered Economic Freedom Fighters (City Press 2013), which significantly held its launching function at Marikana (Business Day Live 2013).
Analyses of Crime and Conflict in South Africa
One can try to understand South Africa as a traumatized or battered society given the conflict and psychological damage caused by decades of the dehumanizing apartheid system. The liberation movements also resorted to violence against both whites and blacks. An emerging corpus of work attempts to explain the prevalence of violence in terms of the impact of neo-liberal practices and discourses, which emphasize accumulation and the depersonalization of life experiences (Olivier 2007a and Olivier 2007b; Roussouw 2007). Another school of thought considers the prevalence of patriarchal and traditionalist views on women (Meintjies et al 2001) as a significant contributory factor in the play of violence and conflict. In the related debate about the nature of the state in South Africa and the conditions for achieving a ‘developmental state,’ the institutional constraints to social peace and the persistence of the ‘economy of affection’ are beginning to attract distinct yet modest critical scrutiny (du Plooy 2007). These approaches are also conditioned by work on other states and regions in Africa.
The preceding discussion indicates the depth and complexity of conflict within South African society and its economic and political structures. What is also evident is the extent of the interplay of the causes and effects of these narratives of conflict. Less obvious perhaps, but of distinct importance, is how the ruling party and ruling alliance has been affected by higher levels of conflict within the country as a whole. There are a number of developments to suggest this state of affairs. In the first place, one notices increased competition for scarce resources by elites within party and alliance structures. A recent tendency in this regard has been the heightened confrontation and/or disruption of tender processes and decisions by emerging businesses. Secondly, the decision of NUMSA (National Union of Metalworkers of South Africa) to distance itself from the ANC (and, to an extent, COSATU) and build up an independent and more left-oriented political constituency, is adding to the fracturing within the ruling alliance. The breakaway of a substantial component of the ANC youth wing and associated supporters in the form of the EFF (Economic Freedom Party) is a further manifestation. The physically confrontationist style the EFF has shown since its arrival at the national and provincial parliaments may well have more than a symbolic impact on future party politics and parliamentary life. Thirdly, the escalation of attacks on ANC councilors at the local government level, often with regard to housing allocation and service delivery demands, is a further area of concern. The response of the current Zuma administration to these developments may prove to be reactive and authoritarian rather than a re-articulation of participatory and decentralized politics.
Our argument is that (a) the depth of conflict is more structurally profound than is often assumed; but (b) that there is scope for reasoned diagnosis and (c) that there are possibilities for remedial intervention. Notwithstanding the debate regarding the shortcomings of knowledgeable action, we would contend that the use of the theory of deeply-rooted, or protracted social conflict provides useful analytical tools and insights. This approach can also work in conjunction with a robust political economy viewpoint in terms of the analysis of the problem.
Post-structural and post-modern analyses of conflict and violence tend to emphasize the problematic nature of reasoned interventions to remedy and address the state of affairs. However, the work of Giddens and Beck (1994) and others on the question of ‘reflexive modernity,’ suggests that there is epistemological and methodological support for relatively knowledgeable and bounded interventions predicated on a consistent body of theory. However, finding the requisite time and space for self-conscious, reflective and meaningful analysis and intervention in the South African context presents distinct challenges for the actors and agencies involved. Such exercises are usually conditioned by a range of practices, institutions and alliances of interest in the interstices between state and community, which Goran Hyden refers to as the ‘economy of affection’ (Hyden 2006; du Plooy 2007).
In these circumstances it is tempting to take a cynical or technically positivist approach. But there are possibilities for praxis. We must acknowledge that we are dealing at a macro-level with a deeply traumatized or ‘battered’ society, a product not only of the apartheid era but also of the immediate post-apartheid period (du Plooy 2007). Violence both impacts upon and is created and sustained by a range of sites such as schools, homes, transport routes, ghettoized areas, and more. Interventions at the macro to micro levels must proceed systematically from a diagnosis of the multi-faceted nature of conflict and violence in South African society.
Toward a Reflexive Conflict Resolution (RCR) Approach
In their book, Contemporary Conflict Resolution (2000), Oliver Ramsbotham, Tom Woodhouse, and Hugh Miall identify a specific form of conflict that they simply call ‘contemporary conflict,’ which challenges post-cold war peacemakers around the world. Contemporary conflict is particularly common in sub-Saharan Africa. In this regard, their model closely aligns with the model of Protracted Social Conflict proposed by Edward Azar (1990), John Burton and the Analytical Conflict Resolution School.10 Azar writes that: ‘…many conflicts currently active in the underdeveloped parts of the world are characterized by a blurred demarcation between internal and external sources and actors. Moreover, there are multiple causal factors and dynamics, reflected in changing goals, actions and targets. Finally, these conflicts do not show clear starting and terminating points’ (1990: 6).
Azar identifies four ‘clusters of variables’ that comprise the background conditions of societies beset by protracted social conflict. These clusters relate to a communal context, frustrated human needs, authoritarian government and international dependency. Azar believes protracted social conflicts are most likely to arise where societies are characterized by a multi-communal composition. The second cluster of variables identified by Azar is a denial of basic human needs. According to basic human needs theorists, such as John Burton and his colleagues, the survival of human beings and communities of human beings depends on their ability to satisfy their material and psychological needs.11
The deprivation of physical needs and the denial of access to political institutions are often rooted in the ‘…refusal to recognise or accept the communal identity of the other groups’ (Azar 1990). Azar actually uses the historical South African example to illustrate the point and writes as follows:
Blacks are denied access to social institutions precisely on the basis of their racial identity. A claim of superior identity (i.e. white supremacy), rather than objective conditions (eg. economic or political motives), largely determines the nature and scope of the denial of security and identity needs of blacks. Such denial fosters greater cohesion within victimized communal groups, and may work to promote collective violence and protract the conflict if no other means of satisfaction is available (Azar 1990: 9–10).
Central to the concept of needs-based conflict is that, according to John Burton, needs cannot be sacrificed or compromised, and are therefore not amenable to negotiation-based conflict management approaches.
Azar’s third cluster of background variables are related to the role of the state. He writes that, whether basic human needs are ultimately satisfied or frustrated depends on the mediating role of the state. A state, characterized by a fair and just mode of governance should be able to satisfy human needs, regardless of any communal or identity differences, and provide communal peace and social stability. As Azar (1989) observes, however, ‘in actuality… this is rare. Most states which experience protracted social conflict tend to be characterized by incompetent, parochial, fragile and authoritarian governments that fail to satisfy basic human needs.’
A fourth cluster of variables is associated with the foreign relations of the conflict-ridden state. Here, one of the contributing factors is to be found in foreign relationships characterized by economic dependency and/or political or military cliency. Economic dependency ‘… not only limits the autonomy of the state, but also distorts the pattern of economic development impeding the satisfaction of security needs’ (Azar 1990: 11).
Azar also presents three clusters of variables that contribute to the process dynamics of Protracted Social Conflict. He singles out communal actions and strategies, the state’s actions and strategies, and what he calls the ‘built-in’ mechanisms of conflict that interact to reinforce an escalation process, based on negative mirror images and ‘groupthink’ (1990: 12–15). A close examination of the corpus of literature produced by the analytical conflict resolution school reveals various elements that are presented as the necessary conditions of conflict resolution. Seven key propositions about the nature of a resolved conflict are listed as follows:
- There is a procedural element, in terms of when the conflict is resolved according to a certain, highly prescriptive process (e.g. the facilitated analytical problem-solving workshop).
- A resolved conflict would present evidence of restored relationships, and also be characterized by the presence of Burton’s notion of ‘valued relationships.’
- A high level of identity, and related satisfaction of needs, through maximization of autonomy and self-determination of groups would be evident.
- There would be a high degree of distributive justice characterized by increasing equality and decreasing poverty.
- Ongoing analytical ‘provention’ problem-solving processes, designed to bring about basic human needs satisfaction through the continual adjustment of social institutions to meet the needs of individuals and groups, would continue.
- Related to the above, but deserving special mention, Burton has indicated that special constitutional provisions should be provided for minority groups in deeply-rooted conflict.
- A resolved conflict does not imply a future without any form of conflict (Bradshaw 2007).
There is, upon examination of the list above, implicit in the work of the analytical conflict resolution school, two levels of conflict resolution. The first level is the hoped for results of the pre-negotiation interventions—the classical problem-solving workshops, that will enable a negotiated settlement to take place. This first level is the result of episodic problem-solving intervention. Beyond this, however, is the second level—the level of conflict transformed in the long term—the result of ongoing, institutionalized problem-solving, with the ultimate goal of restored and valued relationships.12
Why the South African Example Constitutes ‘Protracted Social Conflict’
Bradshaw (2007: 144–163) has shown how the macro-political conflict in South Africa conforms to the protracted social conflict model in almost every respect. It displays a fundamental communal aspect, it evinces a strong human needs element, it resulted in strongly authoritarian government, and displays a dependency in its foreign relations. Communal actions, and state actions and strategies all conformed closely with the paradigm presented by Edward Azar. The conflict took on a cyclical character, with attempts to win the conflict simply resulting in the beginning of new phases of struggle.
Though, in the South African case, important interventions, specifically intended to go beyond the ‘traditional’ conflict management techniques of negotiation and mediation did take place, these never went the full distance. There was never a full commitment to long-term conflict management in South Africa,13 and the interventions mainly occurred on an ad hoc basis, rather than as a part of a larger strategy, which would have been a healthier basis for their implementation. So, for instance, though exploratory, pre-negotiation workshops did take place between the two major communal protagonists,14 they were never conceived within a larger theoretical framework. They occurred on an ad hoc basis, and never specifically followed the model provided by the Analytical Conflict Resolution School, nor any other within the conflict resolution literature for that matter. As regards the South African National Peace Accord, though quite spectacularly successful in bringing South Africans together in problem-solving at middle and lower-level leadership, it was wound up after the multi-party negotiation process. The notion, shared by some, that it would play a role in socio-economic development was never realized.
Next, the TRC determined to meet the long-term, deeply-rooted aspects of the South African conflict, but was disadvantaged by a lack of a coherent vision of what it was to accomplish (Gready 2010). Informed by a potpourri of ideas, ranging from religious forgiveness and redemption to notions of post-traumatic stress counseling, and fueling a veritable growth industry of writing on alternative notions of justice (e.g. restorative justice, transitional justice, etc.), the TRC never met the goals that would have satisfied, not only the victims of apartheid, but even its own proponents15 (Gready 2010). Lack of coherence and theoretical clarity were its chief impediments. Again, it suffered from a lack of funding from the central government, which undermined the possibility of meaningful reparation for the victims of apartheid. In the cases of both the NPA, and TRC, the government balked at the comparatively insignificant costs involved in these exercises, affecting attempts at socio-economic reconstruction, and levels of reparations, respectively.
In an evaluation of the shortcomings of the interventions into the South African conflict, Bradshaw (2007: 312) Table 1 has provided a critique of South African practice, against the theoretical requirements of the Analytical Conflict Resolution school as follows:
|Conflict Resolution Theory||South African Practice|
|Procedurally - the conflict is resolved according to analytical problem-solving workshop process, which make negotiation possible.||Analytical workshops were used, between 1985 and 1990, though not always in accordance with Burton’s prescriptions. There were very good transfer mechanisms, however, that might be said to offset this weakness. It is felt that the pre-negotiation interventions were an important factor in enabling negotiations.|
|Evidence of restored relationships, and ‘valued relationships’ exists.||Evidence collected in opinion surveys, during 2004, 2005 and the outcome of elections since 1994 indicates that there is a lack of trust, especially with regard to interracial, political collaboration. Social distance is high, and Government is seen as ‘distant.’|
|High level of identity needs satisfaction, maximization of autonomy and self-determination||Clearly, a lack of needs satisfaction in South Africa remains a cause for concern, especially as far as physical needs are concerned. The fact that government is perceived as not heeding the demands of the people for services, etc. is also problematic from an identity and control needs, and valued relationships perspective.|
|A high degree of distributive justice.||Distributive justice was compromised in the TRC process, and in the country generally, with regard to human rights abuses and oppression of the past. Gross economic inequality is still the order of the day in South Africa.|
|A high degree of security needs fulfilment||In South Africa, security remains problematic. High levels of violent crime, and violent means of conflict settlement in schools persist. Farm killings continue.|
|Ongoing analytical ‘provention’ processes, to bring about basic human needs satisfaction continue. A problem-solving decision-making framework predominates.||There is a serious lack of attention to ongoing conflict resolution processes of any kind, in the country, by the government, and perhaps insufficient interest in conflict resolution shown by strategic sectors within South African society. The NPA was discontinued. There is a need for institution-building in the conflict transformation management and resolution field in South Africa. A ‘power’ or ‘deterrence’ framework still persists.|
|Political Institutions need to be structured to give protection to minorities.||There is very little evidence of such restructuring in South Africa. It is essentially a unitary state. The first five years saw an accommodation of opposition interests in a Government of National Unity, but subsequently, minorities have not received special protection, except through respect for the equal status of languages.|
|Resolved conflict does not imply a future without any form of conflict||Current levels of conflict behaviour in South Africa seem to be sustainable, although certain areas, mentioned above, give cause for great concern, and may deteriorate if not specifically addressed.|
The Way Forward: Best Practice for South Africa and Africa
What is required is continuing vigilance with regard to conflict management in South Africa. In particular, the authors are calling for the institutionalization of conflict management, through its inclusion in school curricula; the establishment of conflict management systems to deal with lower-level conflicts, thus preventing them from escalating; and the building of needs-satisfying institutional arrangements throughout the society, enabling government to be more sensitive to the needs of the people, with a more focused emphasis on service delivery and less divisive statements and polarizing economic policies. Leadership needs to emphasize and model social cohesion, and avoid disintegrative discourses. We argue, therefore, for the application of a more nuanced version of the BHN approach, reflecting more of the transformative elements of Burton’s later work (Burton 2001).
Moreover, drawing on Burton’s Social critique evident in Deviance, Terrorism and War (1979), and Violence Explained (1997), we would like to see more concerted efforts to build peace-building capacity into the fabric of civil society in Africa. These efforts should parallel the peacemaking initiatives by individual African leaders responding to conflict episodes on the continent. Conflict management needs to be institutionalized. There should be more emphasis on peace and conflict management in African universities and school curricula. Institutes for peace should be established to promote the ideals of ongoing conflict transformation, and advance the promotion of human rights-based and democratic initiatives. This would give effect to Burton’s second level of conflict resolution: the level of conflict transformed in the long term; the result of ongoing, institutionalized problem-solving, with the ultimate goal of restored and valued relationships. In a sense, this is what Fanie du Toit (2008), of the Institute for Justice and Reconciliation, is calling for when he writes that, ‘An urgent national conversation of the kind that set up the political transition is needed to overcome the current impasse. When state institutions take political sides, frightening prospects emerge.’16
The basic human needs of all identity groups must be attended to in equal measure. Azar’s notion of ‘development diplomacy’ implies that development initiatives need to be built into peacekeeping and peacemaking across the continent, and need to have conflict management and transformation elements included (Azar 1990, Azar and Burton 1986). This argument is supported by the later work of Liebenberg and Gueli (2005), who have put forward the concept of ‘developmental peace missions.’ This is an argument for integrated, longer term, and human-centered approaches. Such interventions should also be aligned to economic initiatives designed to satisfy human needs and improve quality of life, such as those recommended by Chilean development economist, Manfred Max Neef (1991). Barbanti (2004) also makes the same point: ‘Clearly, development is at the core of post-conflict interventions, where the physical and social landscape has been damaged.’ It is quite clear that governments need to skew their economic policies towards greater inclusion, less inequality, poverty reduction and nation-building, in very explicit ways, if they are to effectively support human needs fulfillment, and achieve social peace as a result (Barbanti 2006).
From Rage to New Rainbows: Conclusion and Policy Implications
The authors are not pessimistic about the implications for South Africa, nor for the continent more generally. We argue instead that the challenges of Africa present special cases, that need not be met with despair, but which also will not be remedied by a simple ‘politics as usual’ approach. We believe that the basic human needs approach offers the basis for the recognition of a form of conflict that, because it is deeply-rooted in its origins, requires an approach that goes to the heart of the human needs for identity and valued relationships; that is long-term in its vision; that does not end at the borders of the state, or after an election; that does not satisfy itself with peacekeeping, but that takes the challenges of peace-building seriously; that couples the imperative for conflict resolution with the necessity of development; that replaces simple Eurocentric formulae with grounded African practice.
Burton and the basic human needs school, do offer an alternative model for the South African case, which is supported by critical development economy. It has its shortcomings, but, if adapted in the ways suggested by Bradshaw (2007), it is more promising than the approach followed to date. In its finest hour, delivering its first democratic election, South Africa has shown an ability to change what appeared to be its ineluctable destiny. Whether we have the ability to institutionalize that achievement however, remains in doubt unless our leaders, pressured by civil society, adopt a coherent strategy and move beyond fatal ‘short-termism’ and narrow interests.
Twenty years on from South Africa’s historic TRC, it is appropriate to reflect on which elements of the transition worked well, including mechanisms such as the National Peace Accord and the widely lauded Truth and Reconciliation process, and what did not. The early years of democracy held out great promise, but subsequently, we are less secure in our relationships, and less confident in our collective future. Considering the principles of analytical conflict resolution theory may help us understand why.