'Faction fighting has led to poverty'

Canaan Mdletshe

Canaan Mdletshe

Urgent solutions are needed to deal with devastation and destruction, displacements and the immense suffering caused by conflicts and faction fighting.

So said Yasmin Bacus, head of department of KwaZulu-Natal's community safety and liaison department, at the launch of the Sinani handbook on peace building and development work in communities affected by violence, poverty, HIV and Aids.

The book is titled Restoring Dignity.

Bacus said: "Solutions to peace must be devised in a context that takes into account the high cost of conflict and the economics of peace, the importance of peace to development, the role of civil society in promoting peace, why women should be involved in the peace process and the challenges for the future."

She said peace-building was a major component of the work of her department.

Consequently, it has held discussions in areas such as Steadville, Ezakheni, Msinga, Ezimbeni, Manguzi, Ulundi, Sundumbili and Babanango.

She said: "The cost of conflict has taken a great toll on this continent, including the economic, the human, the political, the social and the psychological aspects.

"But the economic and reconciliatory role for all this is less costly than military involvement.

"Faction fighting and conflict have destroyed economic infrastructure, caused severe damage to the environment and ruined education, health and other social service facilities," said Bacus.

She said though government had an important role to play in poverty eradication, civil society had a special responsibility for supporting and building alliances with civic institutions, for fostering practices that encouraged people to take responsibility for their own destinies.

"Peace education should encourage harmonious living, nurture a willingness to cooperate and build constituencies for peace.

"Civic education in the formal school system can build positive social values and promote democratic governance at the mass and community level," she said.

Bacus said for peace to be achieved, women should be consistently involved.

She described women as good negotiators, peace-builders and peace managers.

"Women are inherently peace makers, imbued with a style of negotiation and arbitration which includes open communication and a willingness to compromise for a peaceful co-existence," she said.