Partner to History: The US Role in South Africa’s Transition to Democracy

alt Princeton N. Lyman
Published by: United States Institute of Peace Press, Washington, D.C., 2002
ISBN: 10: 1929223366 13: 978-1929223367

Reviewed by: Brendan Vickers
In Conflict Trends Issue 3 of 2002

In the early 1990s, South Africa was a cause ce’le’bre of the early US-centred ‘new world order’. Amid fratricidal war and communal conflict in settings as diverse as Bosnia, Chechnya, Somalia, Rwanda, Sierra Leone, Burundi and Kashmir, South Africans themselves – who were actively supported and encouraged by foreign political actors – negotiated an end to apartheid authoritarianism, as well as its ignominious exclusionary practices. The pariah state of the Cold War years soon emerged as the paragon and ‘miracle’ of the 1990s.

Of Myths And Migration: Illegal Immigration Into South Africa

alt Hussein Solomon
Published by: Unisa Press, Pretoria, 2003
ISBN: 10: 1868882063 13: 978-1868882069

Reviewed by: Senzo Ngubane
In Conflict Trends Issue 2 of 2003

One of the challenges facing most developing states is that of huge population movements within and between states. Such population movements are a result of a number of factors which, for a very long time have been summarised into two famous concepts, the ‘push’ and the ‘pull’ factors. The movement of people within and between states has been one of the key manifestations of a variety of hardships and challenges that are faced by individuals and states in Africa alike. The fact that, among other things, specific countries and region on the continent of Africa have experienced one conflict after another has contributed to instability within the continent. Such instability is reflected by the huge numbers of people moving across borders into other countries as a way of seeking sanctuary, peace and an attempt to re-build their lives. Such movement of people across borders has also been a cause of serious security challenges for both the countries from which these people originate as well as those in which they seek sanctuary.

No-Party Democracy in Uganda, Myths and Realities

alt Mugaju, Justus and Oloka-Onyango (eds.)
Published by: Uganda: Fountain Publishers, 2000
ISBN: 10: 9970022040 13: 978-9970022045

Reviewed by Senzo Ngubane, Research Officer, ACCORD
In the African Journal on Conflict Resolution Volume 2 No. 1, 2001

The question of democracy, as it relates to the right of people to decide who and how they ought to the governed, still remains one of the thorny issues in African politics. Of course, notwithstanding countries like Botswana, Senegal and South Africa who appear to be consolidating their democratic paths, most African states are still battling with this issue.

Meddlers or Mediators? African Interveners in Civil Conflicts in Eastern Africa

alt Gilbert M. Khadiagala
Edited by: Daniel Druckman and William Donohue
Published by: Martinus Nijhoff Publishers, 2007
ISBN: 10: 900416331X 13: 978-9004163317

Reviewed by: George Ngwane, Executive Director of AFRICAphonie, a pan-African organisation focused on enhancing democracy and economic development, based in Cameroon.
In Conflict Trends Issue 2 of 2008

Gilbert M. Khadiagala’s well-researched book sheds light on the vagary of conflict mediation through citizen-led (elder statesmen), state-centric and regionally-driven initiatives. Meddlers or Mediators focuses on five civil war case studies within the eastern region of Africa but, beyond this, is also a profile of those involved or who intend to be involved in the complex and cumbersome search for peace in conflict-prone Africa. After identifying three categories of mediators (state, elder statesmen and regional institutions), Khadiagala provides a cross-cutting description of any mediator in chapter one: “having muscle, clout and leverage”, “having both power and stature to reward or to punish the disputants for cooperative or uncooperative behaviour” and “having deeper knowledge of the conflict and proximity to the disputants”.

Managing Armed Conflicts in the Twenty-First Century

alt Adekeye Adebajo And Chandra Lekha Sriram (Eds.)
Published by: Frank Cass Publishers, London, 2001
ISBN: 10: 0714650943 13: 978-0714650944

Reviewed by: Hussein Solomon
In Conflict Trends Issue 4 of 2002

The scourge of armed conflicts has been the bane of humanity from time immemorial. In recent years, however, the intensity and scope of these conflicts have increased exponentially. Part of the reason for this lies in the ending of the Cold War – freed from the confines of global bipolarity, armed conflicts have moved beyond the ideological realm. They now include the spheres of ethnocentric nationalism, religious fundamentalism, border wars and narco-trafficking. This has made it harder for academics to analyse conflicts, and more difficult for policy-makers to resolve them. Other reasons for the preponderance of armed conflict include the availability of sophisticated arms and the fragility of state structures.

Making Choices for Peace: Aid Agencies in Field Diplomacy

alt Opongo, Elias
Published by: Kenya: Pauline Publications Africa, 2006
ISBN: 9966-21-145-3

Reviewed by: Raymond Aina, MSP PhD Candidate, Faculty of Theology, Katholieke Universiteit, Leuven, Belgium
In the African Journal on Conflict Resolution Volume 7 No. 1, 2007

Peace is a journey, starting from the interior of the persons involved, but aimed towards a re-creation of the community for the sake of justice and wellbeing after disasters. So, in (proactive) intervention during a humanitarian crisis, ‘aid delivery’ is not enough. Aid agencies need to embrace comprehensive peace-building. That is the principal thesis of Opongo in his Making Choices for Peace. So, he proposes ‘field diplomacy’, a vital tool in post-conflict peacebuilding, as integral to aid agencies’ activities.

Looking Back, Reaching Forward: Reflections on the Truth and Reconciliation Commission of South Africa

alt Villa-Vicencio, Charles and Verwoerd, Wilhelm
Published by: University of Cape Town Press, Cape Town Zed Books Ltd, London, 2000
ISBN: 10: 1856498190 13: 978-1856498197

Reviewed by Jaap Durand
In the African Journal on Conflict Resolution Volume 2 No. 1, 2001

Referring to the Zimbabwean crisis caused by the occupation of farms by war veterans of the struggle for freedom from colonial domination in the old Rhodesia, a political commentator in an Afrikaans newspaper observes that it would not have happened if Zimbabwe, instead of giving amnesty to violators of human rights in the old Rhodesia, had set up a truth commission similar to the one in South Africa. This is a remarkable acknowledgement in a newspaper that consistently had shown itself as a severe critic of the Truth and Reconciliation Commission (TRC). This indicates that the debate on the TRC is not yet over and that, as the time goes on, new perspectives on the work of the TRC will open up. In this respect, the collection of essays on the TRC in Looking Back, Reaching Forward can play an important role, because here we have the remarkable story and a debate triggered by it from the inside – in the words of the editors: an “internal critique”.

Kofi Annan: A Man of Peace in a World of War

alt Meisler, Stanley
Published by: John Wiley & Son, Inc., Hoboken, New Jersey, 2007
ISBN: 9780471787440

Reviewed by: Theo Neethling, Department of Political Science, Faculty of Military Science (Military Academy), Stellenbosch University
In the African Journal on Conflict Resolution Volume 8 No. 3, 2008

In Kofi Annan, A Man of Peace in a World of War, Stanley Meisler presents a biography of Kofi Annan as a man who rose from schoolboy in Ghana to world statesman and Nobel prize winner, and of the joys and despair that marked his decade as leader of the United Nations (UN). The book is not an authorised biography and Annan did not read the manuscript before publication, but he was aware of the biographer’s intentions and co-operated with the project. He also encouraged his staff and friends to meet with Meisler.