MTP emerged during the escalating university conflicts in 2016 and played a key role in mediating conflicts on Western Cape campuses between 2016 and 2017. This included:
- Training 300 Peace Justice Witnesses (observers) who were deployed 24-7 in the height of the conflict as impartial observers, to diffuse tensions and when violence erupted to provide a body of witness to what unfolded. Our reports resulted in the decommissioning of militarised private security at two WC Universities.
- Mediation: MTP mediators and church leaders facilitated multi-stakeholder negotiations between university management, FeesMustFall activists, leaders of student formations, workers unions and representatives, resulting in peace agreements at two universities and the formation and facilitation of Rapid Response Task Teams (RRTT) to implement the details of the peace agreement.
- Church Leaders: MTP briefed and mobilised church leaders who engaged with university management, students and other stakeholders providing pre-mediation and post-mediation support. These dialogues were key in ripening the opportunity for multi-stakeholder dialogues and resolution.
This success meant that when community conflict over land and housing escalated we were invited to help by community leaders. This began in Hout Bay in May 2017. We were invited into Mitchells Plain/Siqalo in early May 2018, and later that month invited into Vrygrond, Parkwood, Westlake and Steenberg these are all areas of protest over the unavailability of housing, land and/or municipal services.
Across these areas we have trained Peace Justice Witnesses; begun mediating negotiations based on demands delivered by community leadership to government officials; trained communities in media engagements, legal rights concerning evictions; built trust between stakeholders; and have been coaching and advising key parties in this process of conflict transformation. We have seen some early gains in each situation, using the tools we developed on the university campuses. However, the underlying issues remain and so we are now entering a second phase of longer term engagement by supporting local leaders to challenge these injustices.
This will require the development of a larger support capacity within More Than Peace and the embedding of Peace Justice Catalysts (PJCs) within each of the communities. We have identified PJC’s in a number of the places where we are already working and are in the process of raising money for their support. We are continuing to train and empower these communities in peace building and advocacy in the meanwhile.