Cyril Ramaphosa: “10 secrets of success” to resolve the South Sudanese Conflict

Posted: December 21, 2017 by PaanLuel Wël in History, Junub Sudan, Press Release

The “10 secrets of success” laid down by the South African Deputy President H.E Cyril Ramaphosa to the Leadership and Secretariat of South Sudan National Dialogue Steering Committee in October 2017.

By South African Deputy President H.E Cyril Ramaphosa

peace message3

one nation, one country, one people

1.) The realisation that we had a crisis as a country and that we needed to find a solution: That in itself was a major breakthrough. Sometimes you can live through problems and never realise that you have a problem; like someone who is ill and has lots of pains but doesn’t realise there is a real problem. That was when we began to develop the secret that got us to where we are. It was a collective realisation that the country that was in crisis. Our interlocutor was the NP which also realised that it had a problem and that the crisis required a solution. Once that had happened, we were able to move forward. Both sides realised they could not defeat each other. Over time they both thought they’d defeat the other (the ANC thought that through MK it would make the country ungovernable; and the NP had a picture in their heads that they would defeat the ANC and that the ANC would be brought to it’s knees). We also needed to have an honest assessment of ourselves. Once you realise you have that kind of crisis you have to lead from the front. Mandela was in prison; he told his jailers that the crisis would never be solved unless you talk to the ANC. Tambo was still in exile and realised that options might well be imposed on SA. Both realised they had to negotiate. The NP was also going through catharsis and saw an opportunity when the Berlin wall fell; they did an assessment of the balance of forces that we have got to talk.

2.) Accept that this crisis could only be solved through negotiations: It was the only way. It led to an irrevocable commitment from both sides. Deep in our hearts we knew this was the only way. It needed brave leaders who could lead from the front and be able to convince their followers that resolving the problems through negotiations was the only way to go. Also realised that developments around the world showed that we couldn’t solve issues through war. Zimbabwe, Namibia were brought to peace through negotiations; the world would put pressure on us to do things this way. Generally, ordinary people do not violence, prefer solving problems through dialogue. War and violence is wasteful; see what it has done to South Sudan. The war has destroyed the country, the economy. For that reason our commitment to solving the crisis in SS must also be irrevocable. War breeds hatred; it breaks down nations and makes people hate one another and it makes it difficult to engender reconciliation. So it is important that the commitment to reconciliation be irrevocable.

3.) Agreeing on who the protagonists are. Who matters in as far as resolving the problems of the country: These are the entities that must sit down and negotiate this peace. These must not be lovey lovey good-feeling interlocutors; rather they must be those who have been at each others throats and who must sit down and negotiate their peace. That process must be underlined by trust and respect. Without trust there will be no way of resolving the problems and the challenges. Trust has to be built. Leaders must respect one another in their leadership positions and what they represent. [insert fishing story recording] Mandela encouraged our meeting, encouraged us to build trust, to spend time together. At the same time trust was being developed between Mandela and FW. It was important that you knew you were working with someone that would stick to the agreement that you had made. When that got violated between FW and Mandela, things were shaken up. But Roelf and I trusted each other. But protagonists should never undermine one another; acknowledge that we need one another in the peace building process. Do not try and destroy the other one; prop each other up.

4.) Develop a shared set of objectives and values and principles where you agree as protagonists what the strategic objectives are that you have in mind to resolve the crisis: What are the values that you want to subscribe to. Rule of law, respect for human rights etc. Principles such as a constitution that is democratic. In SA we set out constitutional principles. They were like a condition precedent to enter the negotiations and on which a framework could be built on which we could take SA forward. Know the destination of your journey or else you could be going anywhere.

5.) There is no problem without a solution: Rolf and Cyril were the filter and we agreed that there was no problem without a solution- often we had to fight and argue but we always knew that a solution would have to be found which we would then send to our principles. That was a commitment to peace. When Roelf knew I was committed to peace and vice versa; it was like magic.

6.) Be inclusive. This means setting up the process in an institutional way. It can’t be just an agreement between friends. Seek to be as inclusive as possible. If it isn’t, it won’t be possible. Reach out to everyone and as much as possible. In any conflict there are key protagonists; the key ones are those that will deliver the peace. But an institutional base must be built that will bring everyone together. we knew we had to build consensus but also within the process in order to move forward. You have to bring those who are reluctant and doubtful along. Peace building is a difficult task.

7.) Expect setbacks and reversals: There will always be contradictions. Once you’ve agreed on all the other secrets; the pillars will support the process that you are involved in. So you can still rely on the goodwill and the process that you have made. Sometimes the process can come to a standstill or a collapse and you’ll have to start all over again. Keep momentum. Reversals do take place and there will be collapse but it does not mean that you stop or that there is nothing further that can be done. Peacebuilding can be a thankless task; you might be rejected by your own people. It’s important to be as honest as possible; even when dealing with and communicating difficult issues

8.) Mobilise support to achieve objectives: Locally amongst the people. Negotiations should never happen in secret; must be as open and transparent as possible. People want to know what is being negotiated, the more there is openness and transparency, the more there is trust. Mobilise other role players who might not be around the table such as the soccer perdition, the cattle association; the women’s sewing club, the churches etc. Mobilisation and spreading the message as much as possible amongst key important role players, no matter how little they are, is key. It is their future; it is about them. We had outreach teams when we did our constitution and we invited people to write in; we got millions of inputs people felt that their input had been made. Look at book by Hassan Ebrahim. Mobilise the international community; no country is an island. Mobilise your friends and those who are neutral and those who are your enemies. Share the story.

9.) Craft a clear story about what the future is: To be able to say this is what the future looks like, this is where we are going, underpinned by our principles and values. Sell that future to the people. In SA we were fortunate because we had a 2-stage joinery: interim constitution that started showcasing what the future would look like in 1993. Then the elections in ’94, thereafter in 1996 we adopted our constitution which showcased to the world what kind of a country SA would be.

10.) To implement the agreements and the arrangements that have been crafted. Some might be unpalatable: Like in SA, the TRC-to deal with the past on both sides since 1960 and to craft and institutional mechanism that would underpin and guide that process. Amnesty, pardons etc. The real test was implementing this. Conflicts that have gone through trauma and war need processes such as a TRC where the truth is told. We also had to craft and deliver on dealing with those people who had worked in the system and who had been part of the machinery. Should we fire the whole lot? So we gave a guarantee that people would not be fired; on the basis of an agreement that had to be implemented. There has to be give and take. Being prepared for that is key; there will be trade-offs. Through that a peace was able to be built.

Did we make mistakes? Yes, of course. We missed certain things but in the end we are human, we do make mistakes. The critical question I will write about when I am 100 is did we take SA forward or did we leave SA stuck? Is our victory owned by South Africans? Has this brought us to where we are? Right now we are still on a journey to deal with ru past and perfect our vision of a prosperous SA. We are not yet there but we have put building blocks in place such as the constitution and durable institutions. We have this as a covenant. In the end, to demonstrate that this is owned by the people of SA, the people of SA use the constitution to their own effect, the people use it and take the state on and most of the time they win.

Many people around the world saw the SA crisis as being intractable and thought this would never be solved; that NM would stay in jail and the ANC would never be unbanned. But there was this commitment that led to the recognition that if we have crisis we need to talk amongst ourselves; the problem was then resolved.

Your problem right now seems intractable. We have tried so much-IGAD, Arusha declaration etc. But we can solve this. I am a total believer that this is a crisis that can be solved. I come from a process that looked unsolvable. When we started our process, I always knew we would be successful. The same is true for Roelf. It requires that. It requires you as actors in this that this is going to be successful. You need to stay committed. My inspiration comes from Walter Sisulu who was in prison for 27 yrs with NM. When he came out I asked him ‘was there any moment when you were in prison that we would never be successful, were you ever depressed?’- he said ‘no, I was never ever depressed and hopeless; I always knew we would be successful and that we would emerge victorious. That inspired me. When we got into the negotiation process; I knew we would be successful. Be optimistic. Find your own secrets that will make your process successful. Identify them and stick to them. The seeds of success are buried in your current crisis.”

The opinion expressed here is solely the view of the writer. The veracity of any claim made is the responsibility of the author, not PaanLuel Wël: South Sudanese Bloggers (SSB) website. If you want to submit an opinion article or news analysis, please email it to paanluel2011@gmail.com. SSB do reserve the right to edit material before publication. Please include your full name, email address and the country you are writing from, plus a concise biography of yourself.

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