Northern Uganda Policy Briefs

Posted on September 12, 2011. Filed under: Gender, Publications, Reconciliation, Transitional Justice, Uganda |

The Justice and Reconciliation in Africa programme at the IJR has recently released four new policy briefs, together with the Justice and Reconciliation Project. The briefs focus on Northern Uganda, as the region tries to recover after more than two decades of war (click here for a chronology of events). The release of these policy briefs coincides with the commencement of War Crimes trials, with the case against Lord’s Resistance Army commander Thomas Kwoyelo commencing in the High Court in Gulu in July (more here).

The policy briefs can be accessed by following the links below (in PDF), and your feedback and comments are welcome!

Gender Justice and Reconciliation in Northern Uganda

Pay Us So We Can Forget: Reparations for Victims and Affected Communities in Northern Uganda

Traditional Justice and War Crimes in Northern Uganda

Missing stories: Truth-seeking Processes in Northern Uganda

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Have a reading day

Posted on August 31, 2011. Filed under: Reconciliation, Reparations |

This morning I came across a whole host of interesting articles – including, for starters, the editorial in today’s Cape Times by Achille Mbembe. It is in fact an edited version of the foreword to Fiona Forde’s new book, An Inconvenient Youth: Julius Malema and the ‘new’ ANC  (read an excerpt published in the Mail & Guardian here). I haven’t found the piece online yet, but his discussion of ‘lumpen-radicalism’ certainly stayed with me… Mbembe writes the following:

‘A life of shame, social humiliation and dishonour is thought to be retrieved from abjection through conspicuous display and consumption of wealth, war envy and a version of manhood that is spliced with a culture of militarism.’

Interesting and timely insight given the scenes around Luthuli House yesterday, where Malema and other Youth League leaders faced charges of bringing the party into disrepute and sowing seeds of division. Also, if you haven’t read it yet, have a look back at Malema’s Nation by Christi van der Westhuizen, published in the SARB newsletter in December of last year.

Next on today’s reading list, click over to Judith Butler‘s latest contribution to the Guardian’s Big Ideas series, which aims to – on a monthly basis – ‘dissect a phrase that’s become an intellectual cliché in order to analyse its true meaning’. Butler unpacks Hannah Arendt’s banality of evil, describing its origins at the close of the Adolf Eichmann trial:

‘Arendt wondered whether a new kind of historical subject had become possible with national socialism, one in which humans implemented policy, but no longer had “intentions” in any usual sense. To have “intentions” in her view was to think reflectively about one’s own action as a political being, whose own life and thinking is bound up with the life and thinking of others. So, in this first instance, she feared that what had become “banal” was non-thinking itself. This fact was not banal at all, but unprecedented, shocking, and wrong.

Image of Desmond Tutu by Sara Gouveia.

Finally, and last but certainly not least, debate has continued this week over Archbishop Emeritus Desmond Tutu’s call for a wealth tax, and the A Moral Imperative to Speak event held at UCT on 24 August. This is the write-up the event received in Today’s News on campus, and podcasts are also available here if you couldn’t make it that day! And, as jy kon Afrikaans lees (which unfortunately I cannot), have a look at IJR Executive Director Fanie du Toit’s response, which appeared in Die Burger yesterday.

As always, your comments and feedback are welcome! And more reading suggestions too, please…

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Amazing addition to the Living Reconciliation series

Posted on August 25, 2011. Filed under: Events, Reconciliation |

I hope everyone enjoyed last night’s seminar on A Moral Imperative to Speak, which forms part of the Living Reconciliation series, as much as I did! And the future certainly looks bright with young leaders like Amanda Ngwenya, Rayne Moses, Jan Greyling and Noncedo Bulani rising in our ranks!

Today’s Cape Argus featured an article that focused on panelist Archbishop Emeritus Desmond Tutu’s call to allow ‘white people an opportunity to heal from the wounds of apartheid’, and we hope to hear more from others who attended the event. We will also post more pictures soon!

I also thought I would share the very interesting opening remarks made by Professor Jaco Barnard-Naudé, who leads the Living Reconciliation initiative together with Professor Pumla Gobodo-Madikizela.

Barnard-Naudé describes some of the inspiration and thinking behind the initiative:

‘It is in order to justify to you our choice of this word ‘living’ in naming our project that I refer to the work of Oscar Wilde (not the only enfant terrible from whom we will hear tonight) who, somewhat pessimistically, once remarked: ‘To live is the rarest thing in the world. Most people exist, that is all.’ While the Living Reconciliation Forum is inspired by a notion of ‘living’ that is more than mere existence as Wilde indicates, we believe, contrary to Wilde, that living does not have to be a rare thing, that all of us can learn to live and not just merely exist in the world. Living, when it is expressed as more than existence, suggests effort, action, vitality, work, difficulty, process, struggle. And it is not mere coincidence that this word imposed itself upon us standing next door as it does to the word Reconciliation. For is it not true that when we talk about reconciliation we are essentially naming this difficult, but vital, activity or event to which the notion of ‘living’ already refers?’

Read Professor Barnard-Naudé’s full remarks here, and please post your responses below!

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Fanie du Toit: Reconciliation and TJ in Rwanda

Posted on April 5, 2011. Filed under: Reconciliation, Rwanda, Transitional Justice |

The IJR’s Transitional Justice in Africa programme has just released the second in its Occasional Paper series for 2011, entitled Reconciliation and Transitional Justice: The case of Rwanda’s Gacaca Courts and authored by Executive Director Fanie du Toit.

In the paper, du Toit explores of reconciliation as an outcome of transitional justice, and examines Rwanda’s gacaca system within this framework.

To download the full paper (pdf), click here.

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Reconciliation Day is a time to contemplate how we put the past to rest

Posted on January 11, 2011. Filed under: Reconciliation, Survey |

An editorial piece recently published in the Cape Times…

Kate Lefko-Everett

This year, South Africans celebrate the 16th national Day of Reconciliation on the ebb of a wave national optimism and bonhomie rarely seen in the country since the first democratic elections of 1994: that brought about by the anticipation of the 2010 Soccer World Cup. Questions about the value and continued utility of new infrastructure aside, around the country South Africans came together in extraordinary ways, in fan parks, along soccer pitches, and clustered around television screens in corner cafes, pubs, and in the homes of neighbours and friends.

Evidence of this optimism is clear in the results of this year’s SA Reconciliation Barometer survey, conducted by the Institute for Justice and Reconciliation (IJR) and released in Cape Town on Tuesday. In 2010, nearly three-fourths of all South Africans agree that the goal of creating a united country across historical divides and inclusive of all of the different groups of people within its borders, remains a desirable one. Evaluations of a wide range of governance institutions, which consistently declined between 2006 and 2009, have begun to recover. Between forty and fifty per cent of South Africans believe there have been improvements in the country across a range of social indicators, including family life, race relations, moral values, and hope for the future.

Importantly, widespread consensus remains intact surrounding the truths of South Africa’s apartheid past, as principally investigated and documented through the Truth and Reconciliation Commission (TRC). Nearly nine in ten South Africans agree that apartheid was a crime against humanity, and 80% believe that in the past, the state committed atrocities against anti-apartheid activists. Continued consensus and acceptance of this truth is a crucial precondition for the deepening of reconciliation and improving social relations in democratic South Africa.

Further, the 2010 round of the SA Reconciliation Barometer also finds that a majority of South Africans still agree that they are trying to forgive those who hurt them during apartheid. Close to three-quarters feel that they want to leave the past behind and move forward with their lives.

However, 2010 survey results also reveal some enduring concerns about the delivery of justice that pose challenges to further reconciliation, particularly in a context in which experts, analysts and practitioners have begun to question whether the wounds and traumas inflicted under apartheid may prove to outlast political will to help them heal.

Just over 20% of South Africans still feel that government has not yet done enough to prosecute perpetrators of apartheid crimes. Close to two-fifths are concerned that not done enough to support victims of past human rights abuses. Since the first round of the SA Reconciliation Barometer survey was conducted in 2003, around two-fifths of South Africans (39%) have indicated that they believe those who discriminated against others under apartheid should now experience discrimination firsthand.

Findings that point to a lingering sense of injustice surrounding the events of the past are particularly troubling given government’s recent, and relatively staid efforts to involve victims in deliberations surrounding the recent release of the names of 149 nominees for political pardons through a special dispensation established by former president Thabo Mbeki.

This list includes the names of apartheid minister of police Adriaan Vlok and former police commissioner Johan van der Merwe. It includes Johannes van der Westhuizen, convicted for the Worcester bombing on Christmas Eve of 1996, in which four people were killed and 67 injured. Simanga Dlamini and Mbongeni Mjwara, have been convicted of 21 murders each, as well as numerous attempted murders. Others still have current cases pending against them.

Earlier this year, the IJR – as a member of the group of civil society organisations that together constitute the South African Coalition for Transitional Justice (SACTJ) – launched a successful Constitutional Court challenge against government over the exclusion of victims from political pardons determination procedures.

In its ruling, the Court refers to the crucial participation of both victims and perpetrators in the amnesty process led by the TRC, and as critical to the “achievement of the twin objective or rebuilding a nation torn apart by an evil system and promoting reconciliation between the people of South Africa.” It also concluded that these principles must continue to inform the special dispensation process. The president is now required to consult with victims in any cases of pardons for political crimes.

Yet despite this important ruling, efforts to consult and involve victims in this latest round of pardons nominations appear to have been limited, guidelines for representations unclear and deadlines and procedures poorly communicated.

It is a positive development, however, that the Department of Justice and Constitutional Development has recently hosted a series of consultations on how best to proceed with reparations, at the request of NGO’s. Progress in this regard may mitigate future public concerns over limited support for victims of apartheid human rights abuses.

In the course of our work, it is not uncommon to encounter those who question the longevity of South Africa’s reconciliatory project, and perhaps now with increasing frequency. Some feel that the time has come to make definitive breaks with the past. In a recent interview, IJR executive director Fanie du Toit commented that some South Africans now view the justice process started through the TRC as outdated, and criticise the work of the Commission retrospectively, sometimes without due regard to its mandate. However, du Toit also suggests that unfinished elements of transitional justice processes “have a way of catching up with society if these processes are not concluded efficiently and with dignity.”

Given that 39% among us feel that victim support has been inadequate, and as we celebrate the Day of Reconciliation, the time is right for dedicated work to ensure that these processes proceed effectively and that victim consultation and participation continues, so that the past is ultimately put to rest.

A version of this article appeared in the Cape Times on 15 December 2010.

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Living Reconciliation Part 2

Posted on December 7, 2010. Filed under: Reconciliation |

Last week I posted links to two events co-hosted by the IJR and Professors Pumla Gobodo-Madikizela and Jaco Barnard-Naudé – both members of our board.

Professor Barnard-Naudé posted his response to Gobodo-Madikizela’s conceptions of the ‘face of the other’ on his Thought Leader blog – and now I see he has posted part 2! Have a look here

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From our Board members…

Posted on November 29, 2010. Filed under: Events, Reconciliation, Uncategorized |

Image from

Recently the IJR has co-hosted several interesting events, together with members of our Board. First, and with our warm congratulations, Professor Pumla Gobodo-Madikizela gave her Inaugural Professorial Address at the University of Cape Town on “The ‘Face of the Other’: Human Dialogue at Solms Delta and the Meaning of Moral Imagination”. Read the full address here and media coverage on here.

Professor Gobodo-Madikizela and Associate Professor of Law (UCT) Jaco Barnard-Naudé also participated in a public dialogue  in conversation with Karen Solms of Solms Delta Wine Estate, which has embarked on a project to heal the past and transform memories of colonial slavery into a narrative of pride and dignity. Read more from Professor Barnard-Naudé on Thought Leader.

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Political pardons recommendations tabled

Posted on October 20, 2010. Filed under: Justice, Pardons, Reconciliation |

On Monday, government released a list of 149 convicted criminals who have been recommended for political pardons – including perpetrators of some of the most heinous apartheid crimes committed in South Africa. On the list is Adriaan Vlok, apartheid ‘minister of law and order’, as well as former police chief Johannes van der Merwe. The list also includes the names of four AWB members convicted of the 1995 Kuruman attacks, as well as those of ‘Worcester bombers’ Cliffie Barnard and Daniel Coetzee. (Read more in The Sowetan or Business Day)

Two named perpetrators, Simanga Emmanuel Dlamini and Mbongeni Mjwara, have been convicted of 21 murders each, as well as numerous attempted murders.

Earlier this year, a coalition of NGOs that included the IJR, the Centre for the Study of Violence and Reconciliation, Khulumani Support Group, International Centre for Transitional Justice, South African History Archives Trust, Human Rights Media Centre, and the Freedom of Expression Institute launched a successful constitutional court case challenging the lack of victim participation in the special dispensation allowing for political pardons. (Read related posts by Brad Brockman and Fanie du Toit)

According to the Department of Justice, individuals or parties who want to make representations regarding the pardons recommendations must notify the Secretariat within 30 days.  The coalition has now expressed regret that government had to be legally compelled to involve victims in this process, and has called for serious efforts to “contact victims through an all-encompassing media campaign, involving the press, radio and TV”.

In the interest of broadening access and information dissemination, I have re-posted the procedures advertised by the Department of Justice below, and encourage others to re-post as well. The full list of pardons recommendations is available here.

‘Any person or party who wishes to make representations to The Presidency must notify the Secretariat in writing within 30 days of this publication. The Secretariat will respond to any communication received within 30 days. Thereafter such party will have a period of 30 days to lodge a detailed and substantiated written representation with the Secretariat. On receipt of communication from a victim or interested party the Secretariat will respond by way of a letter to the victim or interested party requesting that they, within a 30 day period:

  • State in appropriate detail, whether or not, in his or her view, the offence(s) was/were politically motivated.
  • Indicate, with reasons, whether they support the application for pardon.
  • Indicate, with reasons, whether they object to the granting of a pardon.
  • Victims should forward their written representations to the head of the Secretariat.

Victims or interested parties should forward their written notification and written representations to the Head of the Secretariat:

Mr Frederik Heyns
Director: Legal Process
The Department of Justice and Constitutional Development, Private Bag X81, PRETORIA, 0001

Physical address: The Department of Justice and Constitutional Development, 1st Floor – Reception, Momentum Building, 329 Pretorius Street, PRETORIA, 0001

E-mail enquiries:

Telephone: Liana Nieuwoudt: Tel (012) 315 1278, Thulani Khambule: Tel (012) 315 4822, Fritz Willmot: Tel (012) 3151412

Fax: 086 6425 357′

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Reviews: In the Balance

Posted on October 6, 2010. Filed under: Publications, Reconciliation |

I just came across the very interesting Writing Rights blog of the Centre for Law and Social Justice, established by Zackie Achmat and Gavin Silber – well worth a visit!

Today, Zackie Achmat has also re-posted his essay published earlier this year in In The Balance, based on an interview with Brad Brockman.

Reviews from Tonight and Die Beeld are also re-posted, but watch this space for a forthcoming review in the SA Reconciliation Barometer newsletter. Read the essay and book reviews post here!

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Relativism, Reconciliation and Reality

Posted on September 14, 2010. Filed under: Reconciliation |

IJR Executive Director is currently in Europe, and on Friday gave a lecture for BKB on Relativism, Reconciliation and Reality: Ethical Politics in Divided Societies.

Read the text of the full lecture here and let us know what you think!

I also picked up a nice re-post by BKB Africa’s Alex Klusman on his blog about living in South Africa, which you can visit here

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