Thursday, April 26, 2007

Conflict resolution- is this perhaps what South Africa needs?

I just want to reflect on the session about conflict resolution that we had with Berenice the other day. For me, personally, it was an eye - opener indeed. It led me to think back at those days and situations were I had behaved irrationally or even said some things which I was not supposed to have said in the first place. The session centred around the issue of dealing effectively with conflict.Berenice highlighted some of the salient features of a conflict, i.e. the style of a conflict can be about to compete, withdrawal or avoidance, accommodating, compromising and collaboration. All these styles have in themselves their in- grained results. For instance, in competing you win and the other party wins, when you accommodate you loose and the other party wins. Finally when you collaborate you create a win – win situation where everybody becomes happy.
This issue of effective conflict resolution is very important to me. For starters, I love South Africa very much though I cannot claim to be a “proudly South African”. Whatever that phrases is supposed to mean! Anyway I am interested in the way in which the political developments have been unfolding in the country. I must say that the ruling party occupies a very precarious if not significant position in uniting the divided public and nurturing the young democracy. What is happening in the ruling party raises more questions than answers. The succession debate is more about personalities than the interests of the country at most. Does South Africa deserve a President who has a dark cloud hovering above his head? What about the vehement pronouncements that had been made in the public domain in the name of a person like Jacob Zuma. I am well aware of the moral- highground talk about “not guilty until found so by the court of law”. But we are talking here of the most powerful position in the country. What kind of messages are we sending to the business community, the global community? What does this say about our moral values? Hhmm! Much food for though on this one I guess. I pose this question to anyone who is concerned about what is happening in the country. Is the recent conflict, and the tone that it is taking the tonic for South Africa’s burgeoning democracy. Is it about individuals’ insatiable hunger for power? You make your own decision and tell me …period


Thomas Blaser said...

Proudly South African? Why not - I mean its good if people here like to buy the goods produced here. In Vancouver, Canada, we had the 'proud BC' campaign (BC is for British Columbia, the most western province of Canada), appealing to people to buy local and not US products. Moving to politics. I find the times very exciting. But ja, I think the ANC is in a crisis and they have to make some important decisions that will affect the future of the country. A pity citizens have not much influence on what happens within the ANC, haven't they?

Ijeoma Uche-Okeke said...

Politics in Africa is of great interest to me as a citizen of the continent. Time after time, we see African governments starting off on a good note, then the huge downward crash. Despite the debates and dissent within the ruling ANC party, I would like to say (forgive me Themba)that compared to the rest of Africa, South Africa is still miles ahead. I think it is imperative that as you say (Themba) it doesn't become about 'personalities' as is the norm in Africa. It should be about nation-building, the people as a collective. I have respect for the power of the 'American identity', the instinctive patriotism of citizens of the USA. We need to build that kind of spirit in Africa, particularly in the area of governance. I keep my fingers crossed that the ANC will not undo everything that has been achieved in the past 13 years.

Valentin said...

Dear Themba, you raise a very interesting issue-what it means to be a "proudly South African". Despite the fact that you do not elaborate a lot on that, it is interesting that one is aware of the controversial meaning of that term.
I will tell you what I think very briefly. For me, the term "South African identity" is problematic, because not everybody in this country fully understands or appreciates the vaue of the so-called "South African identity". As anyone can see, some people still live in big nice houses, some people are still left on the streets. In fact, there is no room for all these various populations of South Africa to integrate socially, culturally and even professionally. People tend to close themselves in their small social circle and identify themselves in the context of this small community that they have become part of.
I will not go so far as to discuss the reasons for that. I think that everybody knows what they are.
However, if South Africans are looking with optimism at the World Cup in 2010 and they believe that the whole world will see that the "rainbow nation" in fact exists, they need to open to each other and show more willingness to understand the different backgrounds, cultures and ethnicities of South Africa. If not, the whole idea of the so-called "rainbow nation" will be just one utopian idea. Please, Themba or anybody else, let me know if you believe I should elaborate more on that issue!

Bruce said...

Themba I’m proudly South African simply because this is the only country under the sun I consider my natural home. About the freedom of expression, I maintained that a patriotic media with good intentions must avoid grandstanding. Professor Lovermore Mbigi mentioned that no country in the world is without problems, so I find it puzzling to see negative reporting about South Africa dominating our media all the time. Remember South Africa is still a divided society, therefore it seems the media in South Africa is dominated by those whose interest is not to build South Africa, but to show that South Africa is worse than before. For instance, recently the Beeld published a story about the Scorpions having raided Jacky Selebi’s office whose content was later dismissed by the Scorpions as unfounded. This is tantamount to abuse of freedom of expression. Let’s criticize but constructively if we are to be agents to nation-building.