Owning the process: Public participation in peacemaking.
Publication date: 
2002
Accord issue: 
13

Post-apartheid South Africa has not seen an explosion of political violence, in part because of the open dialogue process that helped bring about full democracy and a culture of peaceful negotiation and coexistence.

Eldred De Klerk, a former anti-apartheid activist, outlines the context, changing circumstances and the role of mass participation in the end of apartheid, from the 1955 Freedom Charter to the National Peace Accord (NPA) and the Constitutional Assembly. 

During the transition, South Africans started to debunk misperceptions and myths about each other. They soon learned that the benefit of engagement was in the process itself as well as in its outcomes.

Eldred De Klerk

Public participation through mass organisations, public debate and direct participation through the NPA local and regional Committees created a sense of legitimacy and public ownership of the process and fostered a culture of cooperation and compromise.