Reducing Divisive Effects of Competition, Elections
Peace councils, Legal Framework, Training, Recruitment, Dispute Resolution
Conflict management, conflict management mediation panels, South Africa, Independent Electoral Commission, IEC, Electoral Institute of Southern Africa, Electoral Institute for Sustainable Democracy in Africa, EISA, political party liaison committees, election conflict, election violence, mediation
In 1994, South Africa's interim electoral commission accomplished a seemingly impossible task: navigating myriad technical and political challenges to hold the country's first post-apartheid election. Although the election ushered in a largely peaceful transition to majority rule, the months that preceded it had been plagued by political tension and violence. As the new and permanent Independent Electoral Commission prepared for the country's second national election, in 1999, it had to contend with the potential for renewed conflict and the weakening of many of the civil society organizations and peace structures the country had relied on in 1994. As part of a broader strategy, the electoral commission created conflict management mediation panels. Working with the Electoral Institute for Sustainable Democracy in Africa, the commission deployed respected community figures within each province's political hot spots as a way to resolve tensions on the ground. In 2000, for the local government elections, the commission extended the conflict mediation system into the country's 284 municipalities.