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Field research with Coexistence Initiative

on . Posted in Knowledge Production

From the 13-16 May 2008, Senior Researcher Jannie Malan, along with Karabo Rajuili from the Knowledge Production Department at ACCORD conducted community consultations in Stutterheim in the Eastern Cape, Mpumalanga and Muden in KwaZulu Natal.

 The visits came as a follow-up to a previous field research mission ACCORD conducted in partnership with the New York based organisation, the Coexistence Initiative, in August 2003. In 2003, a series of community consultations in the three communities were conducted to document how each community managed to transit from violent conflict due to racial, political or land issues, and transform into tolerant, cooperative post-conflict coexistence before South Africa’s transition to democracy in 1994.

The broad objectives of the follow-up consultations in May 2008 were to:

  1. Revisit the initial study and update community members of the progress made thus far;
  2. Assess whether or not any significant updates where necessary, and how the initial findings held up to the current reality; and
  3. Ascertain any relevant areas which can be used for further initiatives on coexistence within the institution.

At each site, a number of individual and group discussions were held with a wide spectrum of community members. Overall, the updates indicated that all three communities managed to sustain a level of post-conflict coexistence. However, each community was experiencing new challenges related to the distribution of resources, the management of service delivery and economic opportunities through the state, and finally, the uneven record in economic development despite power-sharing and cooperation in a post-apartheid South Africa. Nevertheless, the communities are still able to discuss these challenges in a spirit of tolerance.

Given the relevance of the findings to ACCORD’s work and the field of conflict resolution generally, the initial manuscript with the updated findings will be published and launched by ACCORD in September 2008.