ACCORD and the Southern African Development Community (SADC) Mediation Support Unit (MSU) organised a High Level Retreat and Mediation training to revisit key mediation and conflict prevention tools to be adopted by the SADC Panel of Elders (POE) and Mediation Reference Group (MRG) as they embark on a more active role in conflict prevention in the region.
The Southern Africa region, whilst relatively stable, has always faced severe poverty and unemployment, however, in recent years some countries of the region have experienced sporadic conflict situations and political instability. As such, this retreat and training took place from 03 – 06 April 2022 in Durban, South Africa following recommendations made at the PoE and MRG Induction Meeting that was held on 28 February 2022 in Gaborone, Republic of Botswana. Other recommendations entailed the need for the PoE-MRG to identify priorities for mediation in the regional context; the need for the PoE and MRG to operate in a harmonised manner; and for the PoE and MRG to be utilised by the SADC Organ Structures in conflict prevention, management and resolution. The four-day retreat was therefore an opportunity to address these recommendations and allowed the SADC Secretariat to present the draft of the Five-year (2022—2026) Strategic Plans for the POE and MRG and table the Strategic Plans for adoption.
As a former member of the SADC MRG, ACCORD’s Founder and Executive Director, Dr Vasu Gounden facilitated the mediation training where he placed emphasis on the importance of understanding conflict analysis, asserting that “mediation largely fails because we fail to do the analysis part”. Members of the PoE and MRG examined the countries of Mozambique, Eswatini, Lesotho and Madagascar as case studies. Former President of Tanzania, Jakaya Kikwete, in his capacity as Chair of the PoE, also shared his own mediation experiences, and together with PoE and MRG members were able to identify specific mediation strategies in response to some of the instabilities taking place in the region.
The main takeaway from this retreat was the need to further unpack the conflicts occurring in the case study countries to better aid the type of interventions required. ACCORD is committed to supporting SADC MSU in the provision of technical and substantive support needed for SADC mediation interventions. ACCORD looks forward to further collaborations aimed at strengthening the abilities of SADC’s mediators to ensure efficient and effective mediation efforts in the region.