Throughout the world, bureaucracies are under pressure to transform and reform themselves into efficient and effective organisations capable of providing desperately needed public services to the communities that they serve. As we move into what South African President Thabo Mbeki has heralded as The African Century, of utmost importance is the establishment of stable democracies and the development of good governance in Africa.
The Public Sector
The Public Sector Conflict Management Programme (PSCMP) at ACCORD was conceived against the backdrop of an urgent need to transform the Public Sector into a dynamic, needs-based and pro-active instrument. It aims to play an integral and strategic part in entrenching good governance by increasing the capacity of the Public Service to prevent, manage, and resolve conflict and by providing mechanisms to deal with recurring conflicts.
The overall objectives of the PSCMP programme were:
- To increase, improve and develop conflict management skills
- To create an environment characterised by consultative decision-making and joint problem solving
- To consolidate democratic initiatives within governments
- To strengthen participatory government
The Programme targetted primarily civil servants and new politicians.
The general public were secondary targets, as recipients of public services.
The Programme met its objectives through two broad thrusts: Capacity Building & Training, and Institutionalizing of Conflict Resolution.
The capacity-building element of the Programme was designed to be Adult-learner sensitive. It took a non-formal approach of imparting skills - believing that participants, by their various interactions, bring a broad range of skills, which serve as a resource in the trainings. The trainings involve: the imparting of skills, experimentation with these skills in a controlled environment. Lessons were also drawn from participant case studies. The material did not stand alone, but required facilitation by an experienced trainer. Prospective trainees are critically evaluated to assess their suitability for the programme.
Institutionalization of conflict resolution
The PSCMP monitored the institutionalization of conflict resolution and management processes in the United States (US) from the mid-1990s.
A group of American conflict resolution practitioners, who have been instrumental to this process, have offered their experience and expertise to the South African initiative. Lessons learned from the US experience were scrutinised and carefully discussed with South African partners.