07 / 2000
DG : Tell me about MTP, the role of such an organization and the importance of training people in conflict resolution and participating in peace.
S.C. : Mediation and Transformation Practice, or the acronym MTP, has been doing this kind of work for the past three years. The two directors (Craig Arendse and Sedick Crombie)together with the consultants, have a wealth of experience in this field, easily 40 years. Our areas of expertise are conflict resolution, mediation and training. I think we can make a contribution because it was not so long ago that South Africa came from a system where we also resolved conflict by using force. We have learnt a lot and found that there are other methods of resolving conflict, and our national government is testimony to that. MTP would like to help other countries and communities, which experience similar situations we experienced. It is not to say that in South Africa there are no more conflicts, because the reason why MTP exist is because conflict still exist. We work with various communities, whom at times do not have the necessary skills. After Apartheid the disparity between those that had and those that did not were very big. In order for government to bring those that have been disadvantaged into the mainstream, they need this capacity building programs, training, etc_ to show those communities that have been neglected how to resolve conflict. So what MTP would like to do is to ensure that we share our expertise. I was saying to Lucas (Christian Council of Mozambique)this afternoon that we South Africans always tend to look westwards to Europe and America, but I think charity begins at home and we should start to look more to South Africa and Africa. We should make this a continent that we can all be proud of. This is what our president Thabo Mbeki calls the African Renaissance, for we need to find African solutions to African problems. We as MTP would like to see that we are a part of that (the African Renaissance). The Peace Caravan is actually the vehicle which physically goes through Africa to promote peace, so what better opportunity could MTP have of being part of this. MTP need to utilize the Caravan to meet all those countries, communities, etc.
D.G. : What do you think is the importance of training people ?
S.C. : Education and training are major factors which help to ensure that communities resolve conflicts. Without education people tend to make evaluations and have perspectives which are sometimes based on ignorance. This is unfortunately the situation in South Africa and maybe Africa. Only by training and educating people would we bring them in the mainstream, where they will ensure that peace is sustainable. If we don’t do that people act on hearsay, on rumors and at the end of the day, they react to that and it always end up violently to the detriment of the country and community.
D.G. : What are the main lessons that you have learned from your practice ?
S.C. : People need to talk more about things that are relevant and affect their lives. South Africans can talk a good talk, we like to talk. In order to reach your objectives it is necessary to talk around those objectives, that it does not become a secret. Our government has realized that. Everything in South Africa is transparent. There is not a problem with secrecy as in the past. Some of our previous military installations have slowly scaled down and are allowing the public to have access to them, which is a major shift from the previous system. Transparency, then, is the other major thing that needs to be in our society and thinking. I have heard this week in Mozambique that people say they don’t know what government is doing. This is sometimes also the case in South Africa where people say there is not enough transparency and only see representatives and politicians before elections. South Africa’s system has changed so much that the politicians are accountable to their constituency which elected them. Communication is therefore another crucial element we need to take note of in Africa.
D.G. : What can you tell us about the reconciliation process in South Africa ? How is it called a miracle and what is the secret of this success ?
S.C. : The basic principle was once again to talk, about those things that needed to be talk about. With Nelson Mandela taking the lead in Africa and the Middle East we have taken the example. We sometimes need to talk about things that are sensitive and excruciating to talk about and address it. That is what South Africa has done with reconciliation, it will open up old wounds, mudslinging, yes_ You did this to us etc_ If you don’t have this reconciliation you will always have the insecurity, that is, people are scared to talk because it could break the peace. In certain countries like Mozambique it could be a slower process, though South Africa’s came at the right time.
D.G. : Could you say what the success was of the South African process, and also some weaknesses ?
S.C. : One of the major weaknesses was the calls made by certain groups for guarantees in negotiations. People tried to secure certain things for their specific communities and were not looking at the interest of South Africa as a whole. The nationalist regime (the Apartheid government)brought in certain guarantees for their constituency. The homelands (for black tribes)had a civil service which was ineffective and badly trained but were incorporated into the new civil service. This led to a lot of corruption which is still prevalent today. At the end of the day if you take the sum total of the South African process it should be regarded as a success. South Africa is thankful for where we are today, because the rest of the world wrote us of long ago, saying we will go through a civil war to resolve our differences.
Text translated into French, in this data base.
Interview with CROMBIE, Sedick
CIMLK (Centre International Martin Luther King) - BP 14 Bujumbera, Burundi - Tel 00 257 242057 - Fax 257 241500 - email@example.com -