Our Projects

Our Projects


Projects in the CMA contribute to sharing knowledge and mutual learning

This project responds to the need for local level intervention to swiftly and effectively address festering conflicts that could result in national or regional unrest if left unaddressed. Given the already fragmented nature of South African communities due to Apartheid legacy, the current state crisis, the gender-based violence crisis, and other looming tensions, and anxieties around the forthcoming 2024 elections, the Ubunye project is a timely and relevant intervention with a strong social transformation agenda.

Ubunye, which means unity, reflects the spirit of this project which seeks to link conflict resolution and mediation at the local level with that of the provincial and national levels. Learning from John Paul Lederach’s spider approach and its collaborative development and use with the Natural Resource Conflict Transformation Centre in Nepal, the Ubunye project aims to develop and pilot a local intervention which can be scaled to the provincial, national and even regional level. Working closely with traditional leaders, and municipalities, and their existing networks, the project will develop an innovative digital stakeholder map, co-establish local peace networks across regions – beginning with the Eastern Cape, and a digital tracking system to ensure the sustainability of the networks. Training in mediation and trauma will be undertaken in collaboration with the Trauma Centre for Survivors of Violence and Torture, Cape Town. The project is funded by the Embassy of France in South Africa, with additional support from the Royal Embassy of the Netherlands. Project timeline: September 2023 – September 2025

High-Level Mediation and Negotiations Training in Africa (HLMNTA)

The partnership between the Norwegian Embassy, CMA and the Department for International Relations and Development Cooperation (DIRCO) started in 2013. Joining with the Gertrude Shope African Dialogue Forum (GSADF) in 2015, this partnership now offers three-yearly training programmes and hosts the prestigious GSADF every year in August.

In recent years a partnership with FemWise has been established in an attempt to tie the training closer to the actual mediation and conflict resolution strategies on the continent. This means that FemWise sends participants to participate in the training at the International Women’s Training Programme (IWTP) and that some of the participants are accepted as members of FemWise after receiving the training.

Traditional leaders and conflict mediation (TLCM)

This project has had various iterations over the years, including a three-year funded project (2015-2017) by CODESRIA, with a particular focus on the position of traditional leaders in periods of transition from violent conflict, a project funded by the CSAG (2018) on women in the context of informal justice and mediation processes, and currently, a four-year funded project (2019-2022) in collaboration with the Universities of Ghana and Makerere, funded by the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation, on women traditional leaders on the continent. NRF funding has also been utilised for this project.

Several postgraduate students in the Department of Political Sciences have oriented their research around this topic, Including a PhD student working on traditional leaders and security in northern Nigeria, an MA student working on traditional leaders in Limpopo, an Honours student analysing the Traditional Courts Bill in South Africa and another Honours student looking at the role of traditional leaders in societal crises such as Covid-19.

The intention of this project is to inform policy and practice in relation to how traditional leaders are perceived and, thus integrated, into governance, justice and conflict mediation processes.

It is envisioned that this project will continue beyond 2022 and funding will be sought for this.

The role of business in South Africa’s transition to democracy (BiTSA)

This ILO and UP funded project, which started in 2019, examines the role of business in South Africa’s mediation process in the 1980s and 1990s. Its focus has been on video recording interviews with elite business people who were involved in the mediation process in order to make these videos available to the public through a digital archive. Further funding is being sought by the ILO to develop a television-ready documentary from this video material. Researchers in the Department of Political Science will use this video material to develop research outputs.

The intention of this project, beyond capturing a critical moment in South Africa’s history, intends to expand our knowledge on the role of business in mediation processes as well as explore the normative question of what the role of business could and should be during peace processes.

It is envisioned that this project will continue until 2025