The National Peace Accord and its Structures South Africa Civil Society and Governance Case Study No. 1 by Phiroshaw Camay and Anne J. Gordon Co-operative for Research and Education (core) Johannesburg, South Africa introduction

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The National Peace Accord and its Structures

South Africa Civil Society and Governance Case Study No. 1

Phiroshaw Camay and Anne J. Gordon

Co-operative for Research and Education (CORE)

Johannesburg, South Africa

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 reimposing the rule of law and bringing peace to many strife-torn communities.
The NPA demonstrated the importance of providing space for civil society to operate freely and autonomously, and thereby to play a constructive and non-partisan role in the peace process. Highly diverse civil society organisations were able to work together in the peace structures and make a major contribution to peace and human rights monitoring, community mediation and a whole range of other key services. However, the constructive role of a large proportion of civil society also highlighted the continuing role of militant elements in every quarter of every stakeholder bent on sowing discord and disharmony, and the need to be aware of their agendas so as to limit their impact.
An essential element of the success of the NPA surely was the building of grassroots support and extensive participation by individual citizens in the peace process. Those communities who felt that the NPA structures were being imposed from above declined to participate. Those who initiated peace moves themselves, with eventual help from the peace structures and civil society, were empowered through new skills and confidence-building which permitted them to improve governance at the local level.
However, in some respects the NPA did not succeed. Not all peace committees met with equal success in reducing levels of violence, due among other things to the complex causes of the conflict and to the inability of some of the stakeholders to control and discipline their members. The limitations of political will within political parties was a major problem. The impression of weakness at the political negotiating table was another feature of these tensions. Also, the limitations and comparative advantages of both government and civil society must be recognised and taken into account in determining their respective terms of reference under such compacts.
The Goldstone Commission failed in many respects due to its inability to get reliable information from various sources in order to ascertain the truth about the causes of violence in specific circumstances. The impracticability of many of its recommendations and its lack of enforcement authority were major drawbacks. The eventual revelations through the more recent hearings of the Truth and Reconciliation Commission have shown clearly that in some cases, testimony to the Goldstone Commission was false. It also showed that in general, whilst some were more guilty than others, fault behind the violence lay on all sides.
Perhaps predictably, the Accord failed in its objective to bring socio-economic development to communities torn apart by violence. As the violence could not be stopped overnight, long-term development activities were out of the question. Even short-term projects encountered serious problems in many cases. They often became yet another source of division where they upset power relations and offered benefits to only certain groups within those communities. Further, any role undertaken by the local peace committees which involved them in making decisions about distribution of resources threatened to compromise their capacity to act as objective peace brokers. On reflection, whilst well-intentioned, this objective was probably too optimistic and placed an unrealistic burden on the peace structures. Such aims, whilst necessary to reduce conflict, tend to create high expectations but result in added frustration and disillusionment when foiled by political actors. Such aims should be approached cautiously and implemented with vigour.
Thus, in spite of the extremely difficult circumstances in which it was drafted and agreed, and despite some notable weaknesses, the National Peace Accord was a remarkable achievement and had a significant impact. It is a clear illustration of how strife-torn countries can build peace and democracy.
This case study focuses on the period 1991 to 1994. It begins with a brief description of the violence and conflict which characterised South African society in the early phase of the political transition. It then explains the origins and content of the National Peace Accord, and the obligations to which signatories agreed. We discuss the operationalisation of the NPA structures and various stakeholder roles. We posit the successes and failures of the NPA, and the reasons behind these. Finally, we analyse the impact of the NPA experience on SA civil society and government, and the consequent implications for issues of governance.
Political violence, particularly in the period 1985-94, was a major cause of concern to both the state and various organs of civil society. The causes of the violence were complex. However, it is important to provide a broad indication of the origins of the conflict and the resultant violence so as to grasp the challenges faced by South African civil society and government. John Hall, chair of the NPA said: “... There are two major driving forces to violence -- socio-economic, exacerbated by lack of political settlement; and the lack of normal structures such as community police, town clerks -- the makers and enforcers of municipal laws.” [Financial Mail, 9.4.93] The Goldstone Commission cited political competition between political parties, the dehumanising effects of apartheid, and socio-economic factors as key factors in causing violence. In July 1993, they added two factors to the list: political uncertainty and the role of ‘agents provocateurs’. [Business Day, 22.7.93]
Political violence manifested itself in various forms of conflict, including attacks by freedom fighters on both official and civilian targets, racial conflict between whites and blacks, attacks on policemen and soldiers, attacks on local government councillors in the townships, attacks on struggle activists and organisations, conflicts between political parties (eg. the ANC, PAC, Azapo, and IFP), conflicts between different ethnic groups, conflicts between hostel dwellers and homeowners, hostel dwellers and shack dwellers, and amongst shack dwellers. These were due to the struggle against apartheid, the divisions within the black communities caused by the apartheid government’s divide and rule approach to governance, and the reluctance of some white communities to accept the inevitability of the transition to democracy.
The challenges to the peace process were further explained by Steven Goldblatt, legal counsel to the Thokoza Civic Association, who said in July 1993: “...The [peace] structures can only create a temporary peace, because they are not equipped to address the underlying issues at the root of violent conflict in the townships”. Many people agreed that much of the violence was about distribution of scarce basic resources such as shelter, water and work. “If you have a gun, or are aligned to someone with a gun, then you have access to available resources.” Access to jobs is often in the gift of those already in work, and they in return demand support for the party to which they belong. The price for a place in a hostel, a site for a shack, or access to a tap is similar: membership or support for the IFP, PAC or ANC. “But those commanding allegiance are often party politicians in name only, choosing their colours for a variety of expedient reasons, often related to the procurement of weapons and ammunition”. Goldblatt said: “The true extent of ‘warlordism’ is often disguised behind the cloak of political affiliation. And, in a situation like this, the lines between self-defence and criminal acts can rapidly become blurred.” Armed groups are increasingly in business for themselves, involved in activities which are anything but conducive to public order. Their agendas, dictated by individual profit and power rather than the common good they claim to be defending, often run counter to those of the political organisations to which they claim loyalty. The political parties increasingly lost control over these armed formations, eg. in Thokoza/Katlehong and Phola Park. [Weekly Mail, 2.7.93]
“Lasting peace will only come when the underlying causes of the conflict are addressed in communities where poverty is rife, social structures have broken down, and the people’s sense of identity has been eroded for years.” Whilst the peace structures could certainly help in setting new norms of behaviour, the deeper socio-economic ills also had to be addressed. [Weekly Mail, 2.7.93]
Blame for the violence was apportioned to various groups at various times, but this did little to solve the causes and put a halt to the deaths. Rather, accusations traded back and forth tended to increase the tension. The annual breakdown of political fatalities in South Africa (including the ten homelands), as reported by the South African Institute of Race Relations, was:


Total political fatalities

























[SAIRR, Fast Facts, March 1996]
This data shows that the numbers were on the rise, with a more than 250% increase from 1989 to 1990, a slight decline in 1991, and then a steady rise again in 1992 and 1993. It was only in 1994, probably due to the combined impact of the National Peace Accord, the political negotiations, and finally, the democratic elections held in April, that the political violence began to subside.
Civil society organisations played an important part in initiating the dialogue aimed at curbing the violence. Due to its lack of legitimacy in the eyes of the majority of the people, the government was not acceptable to most parts of civil society as a leader or facilitator in the peace-making process.
In November 1990, despite the historical divisions between the South African Council of Churches (SACC) and the Afrikaner churches, 80 denominations and 40 religious organisations met in Rustenburg to discuss the problems facing South Africa and the role of religious organisations. At this meeting, the Dutch Reformed Church took a historic step and publicly confessed its guilt for accepting and participating in the apartheid discrimination. The spirit of reconciliation which this produced led to the Rustenburg Declaration which “denounced apartheid, called for a democratic constitution and a more equitable distribution of wealth, and urged churches to condemn all forms of violence”. The Conference also agreed to co-ordinate church strategies and to call a peace conference in an attempt to end the violence. [Gastrow, 1995, p. 16]
Around the same time, the Consultative Business Movement (CBM), a voluntary grouping of the more progressive elements from the business sector, also began to address how the private sector could contribute to ending the violence. They recognised that the violence was harming not only the political negotiations process, but also the economy. It therefore was hitting their interests hard. They prepared a memorandum on the violence in the PWV area (the heart of SA’s economy) and took it to some of the key political players, including the ANC, Cosatu and the IFP, but without any notable outcome at this stage. [Gastrow, 1995, pp. 17-18]
In early 1991, President de Klerk attempted to call together political, religious and community leaders to discuss the issue of violence. This move was rejected by many organisations as it came from a state regarded as illegitimate and as being responsible for many of the causes of the violence. Opponents argued that the summit should have been called by an independent group. An SACC initiative to call a peace conference was also rejected by many as partisan, as the SACC was seen as too close to the ANC. De Klerk’s summit took place on 24/25 May 1991 as planned, but without the participation of many key stakeholders. Whilst 200 leaders of business, political groups and churches attended, including the IFP, DP, Sacob and CBM, many other significant players -- including the ANC, PAC, CP, Azapo, SACC and others -- did not. The main outcome of this meeting was an agreement that it was only one step in an ongoing process, and that the Rustenburg church committee could act as facilitator in planning a further, more representative peace conference. [Gastrow, 1995, pp. 24-25]
Louw Alberts, co-chair of the Rustenburg committee, was asked to take the lead. After consultations with all the key stakeholders, a committee of 13 persons from religious groups and business was formed. On 22 June, a carefully planned preparatory meeting for a peace summit was held, and due to the sensitivity of the issues, was closed to the media. The meeting was attended by 120 individuals representing about 20 organisations. Of the important stakeholders, only three right-wing parties did not attend. A brainstorming exercise, with no debate allowed, was conducted in which participants were asked to list the causes of political violence and ways of ending it. Some key recommendations emerged, including a code of conduct for political organisations, a code of conduct for the security forces, enforcement mechanisms, and the need for socio-economic reconstruction and development. Also recommended were a statutory commission, and peace secretariats at national, regional and community levels. These proposals laid the basic groundwork for what emerged later as the National Peace Accord.
A further outcome was agreement that the preparations for a National Peace Convention should be handled by the same facilitating committee, with the addition of three representatives each from the ANC, IFP and government. Five working groups were established, each of which was to be similarly representative, to look at the following issues:

  1. Code of conduct for political parties

  2. Code of conduct for security forces

  3. Socio-economic development

  4. Implementation and monitoring

  5. Process, secretariat and media

These committees submitted their reports just before the agreed dealine of 14 September. The results were collated into what became the National Peace Accord. The National Peace Convention, held at the Carlton Hotel in Johannesburg on 14 September 1991, adopted the Accord. It was attended by national leaders of all the political parties, with the exception of the same three right-wing parties who had been invited but declined to come. It was also attended by the leaders of the self-governing and independent homelands, religious leaders, trade unions, traditional leaders, newspaper editors, etc. “It showed that the deep-seated differences that existed would, in future, not prevent the various parties from speaking to each other about common interests.” [Gastrow, 1995, p. 33] The Accord was signed by 27 political, trade union and government leaders. This was a huge accomplishment for both political parties and a wide range of civil society organisations.

Some political parties to the far left and right did not agree to sign the NPA. The Pan Africanist Congress (PAC) and the Azanian People’s Organisation (Azapo) declined to sign because they were unwilling to be part of any structure that included government, but they indicated their support for the spirit and objectives of the Accord. On the right, the Conservative Party (CP), the Afrikaner Weerstandsbeweging (AWB) and the Herstigte Nasionale Party were not present and did not sign. Also refusing to sign the Accord were three of the so-called “independent” homelands created under apartheid: Bophutatswana, Transkei and Venda. Ciskei signed but later withdrew from implementation.
The National Peace Accord (NPA) aimed to bring about an end to violence in South Africa and to establish a multi-party democracy. It also aimed to bring about peaceful power-sharing in a multi-party democracy and to assist in social and economic reconstruction. The NPA recognised as fundamental rights the freedoms of conscience and belief, speech and expression, association, movement, peaceful assembly and peaceful political activity. It was premised on fundamental democratic principles of good governance, mutual responsibility and accountability. It provided for all signatories to monitor each others’ compliance with codes of conduct -- for political organisations, security forces and the police in particular. Specifically, the NPA required:

  • political parties and organisations to condemn violence publicly and encourage an understanding of democracy and tolerance, to prevent any member from killing, injuring, intimidating or threatening violence toward others because they hold different political beliefs, to help police in investigating violence and arresting people involved.

  • security forces to protect all people from criminal acts and not to take sides, to try to prevent crimes, to use as little force as possible, and to work together with communities to combat violence in order to rebuild trust.

  • police to protect the people from all criminal acts and acts of political violence without bias against any political belief, to consult regularly with local peace committees and community leaders, to disarm people carrying illegal weapons, and to implement special procedures for investigating political violence.

The Accord called for social and economic reconstruction and development to benefit particularly those communities affected by political violence. It stressed that reconstruction and development projects should be planned and implemented with the involvement of all members of the community, regardless of their political affiliation, and urged local organisations to work together towards this end. Community members were, as much as possible, to be encouraged to take responsibility for their own development. However, it was acknowledged that urgent assistance would be required in some cases to reconstruct damaged property, reintegrate displaced persons into their communities, expand infrastructure, and involve the community in its maintenance and improvement. Such activities should be used to defuse tensions within communities, especially where there is violence related to access to scarce resources or limited facilities.

The aims of the NPA were appropriate to the problems they were intended to address. However, they were hugely optimistic given the limited resources available in the country and the continuing political turmoil. Yet they represented the first real breakthrough in the political deadlock, and as such provided a positive encouragement to the various political stakeholders and to society as a whole.

Signatories to the National Peace Accord
African National Congress (ANC)

Amalgamated Union of Building Trade Workers of South Africa

Confederation of Metal and Building Unions

Congress of Traditional Leaders of South Africa (Contralesa)

Congress of South African Trade Unions (Cosatu)

Democratic Party (DP)

Dikwankwetla Party / QwaQwa government

Federation of Independent Trade Unions

Ximoko Progressive Party / Gazankulu governement

Inkatha Freedom Party (IFP)

Intando ye Sizwe Party

Inyandza National Movement / KaNgwane government

KwaNdebele government

KwaZulu government

Labour Party of South Africa

Lebowa government

United People’s Front

Merit Peoples’ Party

National Forum

National Party / Government of South Africa

National Peoples’ Party of South Africa

Solidarity Party

South African Communist Party

United Workers’ Union of South Africa

The structures of the NPA
The Peace Institutions Act provided for the operationalisation of Peace Accord structures at national, regional and local levels. The structures and their functions were as follows:
National level:

National Peace Committee (NPC): To be composed of those political parties and organisations on the Preparatory Committee plus other representatives drawn from the signatory parties. Its objective was to “monitor and to make recommendations on the implementation of the NPA as a whole and to ensure compliance with the Code of Conduct for Political Parties and Organisations.” [Chapter 8, NPA]
National Peace Secretariat (NPS): To be comprised of at least four persons nominated by the NPC and one representative of the Department of Justice, plus up to four further appointees. Its function was to “establish and co-ordinate Regional Dispute Resolution Committees and thereby Local Dispute Resolution Committees”. [Chapter 7, NPA)
Commission of Inquiry (Goldstone Commission): To be comprised of a judge or retired judge of the Supreme Court or a senior advocate with at least 10 years experience in the enforcement of the law -- to ensure independent and objective leadership, and a senior advocate, attorney or professor of law, plus three other duly qualified persons. Its function was to investigate the causes of the political violence, to establish the background and reasons for it, and to suggest remedies. [Chapter 6, NPA)
Regional level:

Regional Peace Committees: To include, as appropriate, representatives of political organisations, religious organisations, trade unions, industry and business organisations, local and tribal authorities, the police and defence force, and other relevant organisations. Their duties were to:

  • advise the NPC on causes of violence and intimidation in the region;

  • settle disputes leading to violence and intimidation by negotiating with the parties to the dispute and recording agreements reached;

  • monitor all peace accords applicable in the region and settle disputes that arise from their implementation;

  • consult with regional authorities to limit or prevent violence and intimidation;

  • oversee the work of the local peace committees;

  • inform the NPS of efforts to prevent violence and intimidation within the region as well as breaches of the NPA;

  • establish reconstruction and development subcommittees; and

  • address matters referred to the RPC by the NPC.

[Chapter 7, NPA]
Special Criminal Courts: To be established by the Department of Justice in co-operation with local legal practitioners. Based on the premise that “an effective and credible criminal justice system requires the swift but just dispensation of justice”, their function was to deal with unrest related cases more swiftly and effectively than the existing courts. They were to have special evidential and procedural rules. It was hoped that this would help to restore peace to communities by ensuring that political crimes did not fester unresolved. [Chapter 10, NPA]
Local level:

Local Peace Committees: To be comprised of representatives reflecting the needs of the relevant community. Their function was to :

  • create trust and reconciliation at the grassroots, including amongst the members of the security forces;

  • eliminate conditions detrimental to peaceful relations generally and the NPA specifically;

  • settle disputes leading to violence and intimidation by negotiating with the parties and recording agreements reached;

  • promote compliance with those specific peace accords;

  • reach agreement on rules and conditions for marches, rallies, and other public events;

  • liaise with the local police and magistrates regarding the prevention of violence and co-operate with local Justices of the Peace;

  • address issues referred from the NPC and the RPC; and

  • report to the RPC, including making recommendations as appropriate.

To ensure their proper functioning, the LPCs were to be given high status in their communities for their role in the peace process, members were to be compensated for out-of-pocket expenses, and members were to be trained in dispute resolution, meeting procedure and negotiating skills.

[Chapter 7, NPA]

Justices of the Peace: To be appointed after consultation with the relevant parties and the LPCs. Their purpose would be to promote the peace process at grassroots level and to assist the LPCs in their activities. Their duties were to include:

  • investigating any complaint received from anyone pertaining to public violence and intimidation, except where legal processes or investigations instituted by the South African Police or other police forces, the NPC, the RPC, the Police Reporting Officer or a commission of inquiry was already dealing with the matter.

  • mediating between relevant parties to a dispute by negotiation;

  • applying rules of natural justice when issuing an order which was to be fair and just in the particular circumstances in order to restore peaceful relations;

  • referring facts constituting an offence to the relevant Attorney-General;

  • in co-operation with parties and in consultation with the LPCs acting as their eyes and ears and reacting in urgent cases;

  • in all matters relating to public violence reporting to the LPC; and

  • pronounce as a judgment the terms of a settlement reached at LPCs or RPCs, provided that the terms of such settlement are executable.

Regional and local peace committees used the prior experience of some communities in establishing other kinds of local negotiating forums -- a mechanism which has become a South African trademark for resolving conflicts of all kinds. Some forums set up prior to the NPA were eventually given the status of peace committees because they were already perfoming similar functions. They drew on the experience of people who had earlier negotiated issues such as consumer boycotts, labour strikes, and other community-based conflicts.

The peace committees also took on the role of monitoring public events when this emerged as a crucial need. In this role, they worked closely with the security forces as well as with international observers [see below]. An NPS committee on monitoring concluded in October 1992 that “since the modus operandi differed in each region, monitoring by NPS structures should be planned and organised at a regional level within broad national guidelines”. [Shaw, 1993a, p. 5] The expanded role of the committees from primarily dispute resolution to include monitoring and other activities, led to their becoming known as peace committees.
Financing of the NPA and its structures
The NPA stated that funding would be provided and administered by the Department of Justice. This role was transferred to the Department of Home Affairs in 1994. The Goldstone Commission had its own budget and fiscal arrangements. The amounts of funding to be provided were not specified in the Accord, and as a result, were often considered inadequate by the NPC/NPS. Two other key sources of funding were the South African private sector and foreign aid agencies. Some local business and civil society organisations seconded staff to the peace structures.
The provision of funding to the peace accord structures direct from government led to a perception by some that the structures were under government’s control. Further, there were bureaucratic problems due to the hierarchy through which funds had to pass, and consequent delays at the level of regional and local peace committees in receiving and dispersing funds. Negotiators and others experienced delays in receiving payment. To remedy this, it was agreed that from June 1993 the NPS would administer its own funds, in accordance with agreed procedures. [Gastrow, 1995, p. 53]
For the 1993/4 financial year, the government budgeted R41.175 million. This was topped up by British and Danish contributions for training and communication equipment. The budget did not even remotely reflect the actual costs of maintaining the peace structures, as much of the work especially at local level was conducted on a volunteer basis. All peace monitors in the field were volunteers.
The composition of the National Peace Secretariat was largely a result of negotiations between the three most significant players -- the government, the ANC and the IFP. Ultimately, the NP, ANC, IFP, Democratic Party (DP), Labour Party (LP), Department of Justice and the legal profession each had one member. The representative of the legal profession, Antonie Gildenhuys, was chosen as chair. Several places were left vacant in the hope that eventually, the non-signatory parties would decide to sign and join the Secretariat.
Political violence
Political violence continued to escalate in many areas, despite the fact that the NPC, NPS and the RPCs were established and staffed reasonably quickly. The LPCs were considerably more problematic. “It was unrealistic to expect an Accord, reached at the national level, to immediately bring peace to local communities. And, although theoretically meant to preempt violence, LPCs were often set up only as a reactive measure after substantial violence had already occurred. It may take months to break down mutual suspicion sufficiently for the parties to come together and discuss the formation of a local body. It may take further weeks before an LPC is formally constituted”. [Shaw, 1993a, p. 6] Further, in communities where there was peace, people did not see the need for an LPC -- it was only when violence did occur that they began to see the need and at that point, the key players were often reluctant.
The context of the violence was extremely complex, with many different interests at play, even within particular organisations. Thus, whilst some members of a party might be actively attempting to bring peace, others might see continuing violence as a means of maintaining their own hold over a particular area, or of settling old family or community scores. Or, the leadership at national level might have committed to peace, but lacked the internal party discipline to carry all their members with them.

After 18 months, eleven regional peace committees and 85 local peace committees had been established, and 30 more were in the process of being established. [Star, 4.6.93] “The peace committees are South Africa’s schools of consultation, negotiation, and political tolerance... Local peace agreements have been brokered by peace committees in some of the most violence-racked communities in Natal. A fraught but ultimately successful negotiation process under peace committee auspices allowed both Inkatha and the ANC to hold rallies at adjoining venues in the East Rand on Sharpeville day. The peace committees also played a vital role in restoring peace to South Africa in the aftermath of Chris Hani’s assassination.” [Mail & Guardian, 18.6.93]

The peace committees were involved in trying to resolve a wide range of disputes, some overtly political and others which might have begun as economic issues but developed political overtones. These included disputes between local authorities and political parties over permits for political marches or rallies, commercial violence as in taxi disputes, rates and services boycotts in black communities, retail boycotts, industrial disputes such as hospital workers’ or teachers’ strikes. [Star, 28.2.94] The peace committee members and the peace monitors who the committees deployed to monitor most political events were provided with training in negotiation and conflict resolution techniques. When confrontations emerged, the committees and/or monitors acted to defuse and resolve the disputes before violence could erupt.
The peace committees themselves comprised as complete a cross-section of the community as possible -- stakeholders who had “never faced each other across the negotiating table before” came together to attempt to resolve disputes. [Star, 28.2.94] They provided neutral territory on which opposing parties could meet. In violence-ridden areas, it often took months of negotiation just to bring these stakeholders to the table. Once they began talking, facilitators attempted to help them identify the key issues underlying the conflict and then to find common ground. A structured approach and adherence to meeting procedures was a key factor in managing these discussions and keeping them on track. All the inputs were recorded in writing. Solutions were then sought and the resources required were identified. Once one problem was resolved or violence avoided, the peace committees continued to maintain their presence and role so as to be available for the next issue. These processes helped to create trust and confidence amongst the stakeholders, in some cases laying the groundwork for other forms of co-operation amongst them and/or an ability to resolve conflicts between them outside of the peace committees. They also built an understanding of some ground rules for political action which played an important role in the 1994 elections.
However, the NPC and the peace committees at all levels continued to feel considerable frustration at the lack of political will demonstrated by some parties. At the end of May 1993, John Hall, chair of the NPC, demanded that Peace Accord signatories recommit themselves to the Accord by signing it again, this time along with regional and local leadership. He said: “How can South Africans trust politicians to honour the new constitution if the National Peace Accord is not honoured to the letter? South Africans must stop killing each other. It is unthinkable that a country whose leaders are locked into sophisticated and serious negotiations to bring peace can tolerate the violence sweeping the country and threatening to destroy us all.... The NPA succeeds in spite of the political leadership and thanks to the work of the thousands of dedicated South Africans and international observers who labour day and night, often in life-threatening circumstances, to prevent the pot of violence from boiling over.... South Africans should be ashamed of the face of violence they present to the world. Enough is enough!” [Star, 27.5.93]
Stanley Mogoba, vice-chair of the NPC, said: “The lack of direction and cohesion, and the way different parties and political organisations are simply doing their own thing, is causing chaos. At this time, there is no need for armed marches, pre-dawn swoops, APLA attacks on civilians or education boycotts when the real issue is negotiation. And the process of negotiation is so far down the line that even the most myopic of politicians and military strategists should realise that resorting to violence will only delay us crossing the threshold into a new South Africa, and further harden the hearts of those who do not desire peace, justice and reconciliation... I call on these leaders, and their followers, to demonstrate their integrity by coming out strongly in favour of peace. No act of violence can be condoned, whoever the perpetrator.” [Sunday Times, 30.5.93]
In a report to regional peace secretariat chairpersons and international observers, the chair of the NPS, Antonie Gildenhuys, said “In the 18 months in which we have been active, we have not managed to stamp out violence... but I think there is a marked reduction in purely political violence.” He said that “the violence had shifted away from high-profile political confrontations to assassinations, taxi wars and crime. The recent fighting between Thokoza residents and hostel dwellers was an exception.” [Business Day, 4.6.93]
In a June 1993 report, a negotiations technical committee on violence made a number of path-breaking proposals, eg. the establishment of a multi-party peacekeeping force before the elections, and the establishment of a national peace force or youth corps to engage youth in the peace process. The latter was intended to involve the disenchanted youth in constructive activity and thereby keep them from getting involved in violence and crime.
In August 1993, the Youth Peace Pioneer Movement was launched in Soweto. Its organisers said the main aim would be to promote ubuntu-botho and to highlight the need for political tolerance. “The organisation believes that because the youth has always been in the forefront of the struggle, no peace plan would be complete without them.” [Sowetan, 2.8.93]
In late 1993, the NPA Trust set up a series of trauma counselling projects to assist victims of violence. It rapidly became clear that the problem was so huge that it required a nationally co-ordinated response. [Star, 1.12.93]
Individual peace monitors of all races and political affiliations courageously went into often very dangerous and sometimes life-threatening situations to try to stop the violence. In 1993, in Thokoza and Katlehong, they had to resort to monitoring from the relative safety of armoured vehicles. They also had to deal with the emotional and psychological trauma of seeing the effects of violence day after day.
Peaceline, the Wits/Vaal Peace Secretariat’s emergency hotline was a vital link between the communities, local peace structures and the SAP. The Peaceline allowed community members to phone in and relate any events taking place in their communities. A conflict inventory of the peaceline by the Johannesburg and Thokoza Peace Committees gave clear prior indicators of potential violence breakouts in these communities. Peaceline was able to arrange for monitors to be present at potentially violent events and to alert the SAP if incidents were reported.
In October 1993, it was announced that pilot youth peace corps programmes were to be launched in Alexandra and Daveyton townships, under the auspices of the Wits/Vaal Peace Secretariat and the NPA Trust. The Danish government donated R2m for training of between 200 and 400 volunteers. The idea was that the corps would be the ‘eyes and ears’ of the community by patrolling townships and liaising with political leaders and emergency services. They would monitor unrest and help with the reconstruction of areas devastated by violence. The youth would be given uniforms dissimilar to those of the security forces and political organisations, trained in a high level of discipline but not armed, and organised in a military fashion with strict lines of command. International and local experts would be involved in the training, and possibly the police and SADF as well. The youth would be chosen by communities themselves and could include members from different political parties. [Business Day, 29.10.93] Unfortunately, this initiative later fell apart. The youth became involved in criminal activity and the education crisis was not solved. Further, the NPA Trust has never accounted publicly for the funding it received.
Due to its limited mandate, the NPS was only able to treat symptoms of violence. The elimination of the causes was up to the political leadership. This led in mid-1993 to NPC proposals for strengthening the Accord to give it more teeth to enforce breaches of the code of conduct, including an arbitration procedure which would determine appropriate political sanctions (eg. public apology, suspension from parties of guilty members, etc.). This was felt to be preferable to the introduction of criminal penalties. [Mail & Guardian, 18.6.93]
In September 1993, the chair of the NPS, Antonie Gildenhuys, noted that an analysis of the peaks of political violence indicated that there were “elements in South African society bent on the disruption of the political process”. He added that “political violence seems to escalate each time a milestone is reached in the negotiation process. It is necessary that a political solution be reached as soon as possible, and South Africans must demand this from the politicians. South Africa can no longer afford the violence which dogs the negotiation process.” [Business Day, 3.9.93]
Socio-economic reconstruction and development
This mandate given by the NPA to the peace structures to get involved in reconstruction and development was a very broad one, unaccompanied by any specific guidelines, tasks or targets and benchmarks. It was included due to the correct analysis that poverty and competition for scarce basic resources and services were direct causes of violence. However, despite the creation of an NPC sub-committee on socio-economic reconstruction and development (SERD), little if any data was collected on a national basis in terms of what the various committees were doing with regard to this function. And, because of the constant stark reminders -- funerals, statistics of political killings, media reports, etc. -- reducing the violence took priority in most regions and localities.
Shaw wrote: “This order of priorities is inescapable: while structural inequalities do continue to feed violence, it is simply not possible to implement development projects in violence-torn areas. And development initiatives introduced to conflict ridden communities where one party is seen to benefit over the other could fuel further violence. The dilemma which faces LPCs, then, is that tackling the root causes of violence may be impossible as long as violence persists”. [1993a, p. 9]
For example, late in 1993, a revealing governance issue arose in Reef townships when peace committees began to be involved in development projects. Essentially, the problem arose when local civic associations complained via SANCO (South African National Civic Association) to the National Peace Secretariat that some of the peace committees had become involved in civic organisation’s preserves, eg. negotiations with authorities aimed at ending rent and services boycotts. SANCO argued that this could result in conflicts between the committees and the civics. They said that “any development project in any township should have the participation of civic structures”. The Wits/Vaal Peace Secretariat responded that peace committees had a mandate under the NPA to become involved in socio-economic reconstruction. They added, however, that such projects should be preceded by consultation with the “full community”, including all relevant interest groups. This raised the key governance issue of representativity and whether it was justifiable for civics to argue that they alone represented the whole community. Subsequent research indicated that this was not the case. [Business Day, 26.10.93]
This situation meant that, in many of the affected communities, long-term development activities were out of the question. Some short-term projects were attempted, but whether they were sustained is not clear. In some areas, water and electricity were installed in communities, feeding schemes were provided or shelter offered to people displaced from their homes due to the violence. Some hostels were upgraded (eg. in the Wits/Vaal region). Those projects that had the greatest likelihood of succeeding were those that would clearly benefit the entire community, regardless of political affiliation, and which in their implementation would not upset existing power relations in the community, eg. immediate relief for victims of violence.
Any role taken on by the LPCs which involved them in, for example, making decisions about distribution of resources, would almost certainly compromise or even negate their ability to act as objective peace negotiators.
The Commission of Inquiry Regarding the Prevention of Public Violence and Intimidation was established in terms of the Prevention of Public Violence and Intimidation Act No. 139 of 1991 to investigate the causes of violence and intimidation; recommend measures capable of containing and/or preventing cycles of violence; and initiate research programmes for the establishment of scientific empirical data on violence. [NPA, p. 23] It was later dubbed the Goldstone Commission after the judge who was appointed to head it.
“The underlying assumption behind the establishment of an investigative body was that ‘violence and intimidation declines when it is investigated and when the background for it is exposed and given media attention’.” [Shaw and Monyatsi, 1993, p. 1; NPA, Chapter 6, p. 22] In its various reports, the Commission found that the violence had many different causes, depending on the location, participants, history, current prevailing issues, etc. It tread a difficult path in trying to both be as objective as possible and to be perceived as such.
The following are some illustrative examples of the investigations and recommendations of the GC, all of which were one way or another aimed at promoting more effective governance -- by the government, the political parties, etc. -- especially as it related to the prevention / reduction of violence:
Public gatherings

In late April 1993, the GC proposed urgent measures to govern public gatherings. [Business Day, 30.4.93]

Train violence

In May 1993, the Goldstone Commission reported on its findings with regard to train violence in which attacks were made on passengers. The report concluded that the train violence was inextricably linked to political violence, especially the enmity between the ANC and the IFP. Both hostel dwellers and township residents were responsible for the attacks. The question of the role of a ‘third force’ was not resolved as no evidence was presented either way. The Commission urged that the parties promote political tolerance amongst their supporters. [Citizen, 18.5.93]

Arms caches

“The ANC’s possession of arms caches was a political problem for which a political solution had to be sought”, commented a GC subcommittee investigating the illegal importation, distribution and use of firearms. “The ANC accepted that its possession of firearms was unlawful in terms of existing legislation, but the historical reasons for the armed struggle had to be considered... The ANC was willing to subject Unkhonto we Sizwe to investigation and audit by an independent body if the police, SADF and KwaZulu government agreed to do the same”. [Citizen, 16.4.93]

Taxi violence

In August 1993, a year after it had begun hearings on the issue, the GC issued a preliminary report on taxi violence. The committee’s report listed “intolerance, selfishness, provocation and greed by taxi operators as the immediate cause of the violence”. The report said that political rivalry and affiliation were not causes of taxi violence.

The report cited a number of other causes underlying the taxi conflict, including the effect of apartheid laws on urbanisation and the failure of authorities to provide even rudimentary transportation for masses of people on a daily basis; commercial factors; the Transport Department’s lack of communication with taxi operators and consequent inability to anticipate problems; the lack of transparency in the issuing of permits; the lack of law enforcement and the absence of facilities. The report, however, urged that the taxi industry should not be deregulated before “informal townships and settlements become established and peaceful communities”. [Business Day, 20.8.93] They provided guidelines for future regulation of the industry.

The Human Sciences Research Council conducted an investigation into hostels commissioned by the Goldstone Commission. In its report, “Communities in isolation: Perspectives on hostels in South Africa”, the researchers made 28 recommendations, one of which is “that peace structures should incorporate effective rumour-control mechanisms in their operations.” They concluded that “the conflict between hostel and township residents has been fuelled and fanned by distorted perceptions. Negative stereotypes will have to be corrected through community-based initiatives. Examples are local peace accords, joint community meetings, social and sport events, and the sharing of all facilities.” They also suggested “strict measures banning the possession, carrying and use of dangerous weapons”. Further, the report recommends “the establishment of hostel co-operatives so residents can run the hostels along democratic lines; upgrading and formalising of hostels and surrounding informal settlements; the expansion of local peace committees to become neutral negotiating forums and the development of educational programmes in townships and hostels.” [Star, 31.5.93]

The HSRC report cited a number of reasons for problems related to the hostel residents and tensions between them and township residents. “Hostel residents have not been accepted as part of the surrounding community. They feel aggrieved that they are not treated like human beings, but rather like animals without any rights...Township residents perceive hostels as a threat because attacks allegedly emanate from them, because they are seen to harbour criminal elements, and because hostel residents are seen as an economic threat to the extent that they compete for or take jobs away from township residents... The hostels/townships divide cannot be addressed in isolation from the existing realities of the social, political and economic environment in which they are located.” [City Press, 6.6.93]

Impact of the Goldstone Commission
“The reports produced by the Commission can be divided into three types: firstly, those which investigate specific past events, for example, the presence of Renamo soldiers in KwaZulu; those which examine a past event but draw recommendations which will be helpful for ongoing conflicts, for instance, the five interim reports on taxi-related violence which examine specific conflicts in specific areas (Alexandra, Midrand, Groblersdal) and then draw recommendations for elsewhere; finally, investigations which look entirely at a future event/s, for example, the panels which met with regard to the conduct of mass demonstrations and the prevention of violence during the election”. [Shaw and Monyatsi, 1993, p. 45]
The Commission certainly succeeded in obtaining media coverage of its hearings, investigations, findings and recommendations, and thereby the attention of politicians, government, security forces, civil society and the public. However, the extent to which its recommendations had an impact on policy and practice was mixed. Out of a total of 149 recommendations made by the GC from its inception in October 1991 up to November 1993, only 21 had been totally completed, 27 recommendations had been ignored altogether, whilst progress had been made on 42 of them. Six were under discussion and the status of 24 was indeterminate. “Generally, recommendations that have been completed have been fairly specific or technical in nature with clear parameters”. The most important and far-reaching ones tended to be those with which some progress was being made. “Since most of these recommendations are complex and require the agreement of many parties (often resulting in protracted negotiations), the allocation of finances and the internal efficiency of organisations and state departments, progress has often been slow”. [Shaw and Monyatsi, 1993, p. 47]
Views on the Commission’s effectiveness and impact varied. Whilst recognising its overall value and contribution, UNOMSA head, Angela King, criticised the GC saying that their reports took too long to complete due to lack of personnel and “by the time the results are out, the people involved are either frustrated or no longer interested, or it has become irrelevant.” [Citizen, 1.2.94] The Shaw/Monyatsi report concluded that the “Commission has had a substantial influence on the debate around the causes of violence. Moreover, many of the recommendations made by the Commission have received positive attention and an effort must be made to complete the implementation of the majority of them”. [1993, p. 49]

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