Using Conflict Management Panels to Resolve Tension in the Second Post-Apartheid Election: South Africa, 1999-2000

In 1994, South Africa's interim electoral commission accomplished a seemingly impossible task: navigating myriad technical and political challenges to hold the country's first post-apartheid election. Although the election ushered in a largely peaceful transition to majority rule, the months that preceded it had been plagued by political tension and violence. As the new and permanent Independent Electoral Commission prepared for the country's second national election, in 1999, it had to contend with the potential for renewed conflict and the weakening of many of the civil society organizations and peace structures the country had relied on in 1994. As part of a broader strategy, the electoral commission created conflict management mediation panels. Working with the Electoral Institute for Sustainable Democracy in Africa, the commission deployed respected community figures within each province's political hot spots as a way to resolve tensions on the ground. In 2000, for the local government elections, the commission extended the conflict mediation system into the country's 284 municipalities.
Rachel Jackson drafted this case study based on interviews conducted in South Africa, in March 2013. Case published July 2013. For a detailed look at South Africa's first post-apartheid election, in 1994, see "Organizing the First Post-Apartheid Elections, South Africa, 1994."
conflict management
conflict management mediation panels
South Africa
Independent Electoral Commission
Electoral Institute of Southern Africa
Electoral Institute for Sustainable Democracy in Africa
political party liaison committees
election conflict
Election Violence
Focus Area(s)
Reducing Divisive Effects of Competition
Critical Tasks
Legal framework
Peace councils
Core Challenge
Dispute resolution (compliance)
Country of Reform
South Africa
Case Studies
Rachel Jackson