Our Inspiration – the Legacy of the National Peace Accord
The relatively peaceful transition to a fully democratic society in South Africa has been a surprise to both internal and external observers and commentators in light of the country’s history of systematic violation of human, social, political and economic rights under apartheid. Whilst violence has by no means been eradicated, some credit for the relative peace during the period 1991-94 has to be given to the National Peace Accord (NPA).
The legacy of the NPA has also had far reaching impact in building the understanding amongst different sectors of South African civil society and government agencies of how to mediate solutions to community violence rather than resorting to counter-violence. It facilitated the negotiations between the political forces involved in negotiating the transition to democracy. Further, it helped to put on track the transformation of the agencies responsible for maintaining public order, eg. the police service and the defence force, so that those agencies would be able to function appropriately and with credibility in a democratic South Africa.
Overall, the NPA made a significant contribution to building communication and political tolerance amongst the contesting parties prior to the 1994 elections, allowing those elections to take place in an environment of relative peace and stability. The direct and tangible impact of the NPA included the establishment of a National Peace Secretariat, 11 regional peace committees and more than 200 local peace committees. Approximately 15,000 peace monitors were trained across the country, drawn from all sections of society. The peace structures themselves, and the co-operation of key elements in government, political parties, business and civil society, enabled considerable progress in re-imposing the rule of law and bringing peace to many strife-torn communities.
Source: South Africa Civil Society and Governance Case Study No. 1
by Phiroshaw Camay and Anne J. Gordon
Co-operative for Research and Education (CORE)
In Setswana we say, “Ntwa kgolo key a molomo” (Lose translation: The honourable fight is the one that is fought through conversations or negotiations).
Our founding fathers and mothers of our democracy showed us how to do this.
And if it helped them to defeat Apartheid and enabled them to achieve peace, we too can resolve our differences and find ourselves through negotiations.