Friday, 01 May 2015 03:29

The Conflict Series

CCMT has so far completed two out of three documentaries as part of its ‘Transforming through Conflict Series’. The series is a collection of films which show how several communities have dealt with conflicts which have divided them. A third film which focuses on the nature of the relationship between NGOs, the state and communities in Zimbabwe is currently in post production and is due to be released in the New Year.

Filming of the documentaries, which began at the beginning of March, has been an exciting journey for CCMT as several developmental issues and themes have emerged through the films. One film builds the case for the need for conflict sensitivity in implementing development projects whilst another shows what one community can do for itself, given the chance.

Click the links below to watch the CCMT intervention at New Gato Primary and see how one community transformed itself through conflict.

New Gato - A Story of Hope Part 1

New Gato - A Story of Hope Part 2

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Friday, 01 May 2015 03:28

Understanding Conflict through Film

Search for Common Ground (SFCG) has partnered with CCMT’s Consultancy Department to conduct a series of weeklong community outreaches, which centre around the screening of episodes of popular Zimbabwean TV soap ‘The Team’. The outreaches are being carried out in Mvurwi, Gutu, Magunje, Lupane, Rusape and Mutoko.

The 5 day outreaches consist of screenings of selected episodes of the soap, revolving around a community football team whose success is dependent on unity and the support of the community.

The outreaches, which have so far been held in Mvurwi and Karoi, have proved to be highly successful. Through the screenings, participants have been able to identify with and share experiences of conflict issues that are affecting them in their lives. They have also been introduced to conflict transformation concepts and analysis tools as well receiving leadership training.

Participants are made up of community leaders such as councillors, district authorities and traditional leaders as well as members of the communities themselves. As a result of the outreaches, there have already been requests for further training of local leaders.
Mvurwi participant Mrs Gapare said of the outreach “I got the realisation that conflicts are a waste of time and hinder development, so people need to work together”.

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“Imminent divorces, discordant couples, neighbourhood squabbles, extended family feuds, polygamy wrangles, clergy bickering, property rows.....the list goes on.

The disputes may be wide and varied, for the most part complicated and controversial, others, too personal and confidential. Nonetheless, all are potential time bombs. If unresolved, they can lead to unfortunate consequences of violence, damage to property and even death.

We have found a reason to intervene in these domestic yet life threatening conflicts. Through mediation and counselling, we respond to calls from the community to mend the fragile relationships even at household levels.”

Mediation is the informal process in which the third party with no power to impose a resolution helps the disputing parties to reach a mutually acceptable settlement. Kuwadzana Conflict Management members employ this mechanism as prevention and early intervention of conflicts as an alternative to institutional mechanisms.

KCM expects that the mediation process would have a positive impact on living conditions in Kuwadzana high density surburb by affecting underlying levels of inter-group and interpersonal conflict.

 Not only can mediation afford participants a sense of power and control over their lives, but it can also "humanize people to each other, help them to look beyond their assumptions and see each other as real persons with real human concerns and needs, even in the midst of disagreement - it can evoke recognition.

KCM  not only develops a more appropriate and accessible forms of dispute resolution, but goes beyond that to reduce community tensions by strengthening the capacity of neighborhood, church, civic, school and social service organizations to address conflict effectively through community dialogues and conflict sensitisation meetings.

We embrace all facets of an excellent community mediation team. We are trained community volunteers and work as the primary providers of mediation services. Volunteers are not required to have academic or professional credentials therefore we are a representative of the diversity of women from many backgrounds.

We go further to engaging in public awareness campaigns and educational activities about the values and practices of mediation; providing a forum for dispute resolution at the earliest stage of conflict; and we aim at adequately  providing an alternative to the judicial system at any stage of  conflict.  

We work with the participants to understand the concerns, fears, hopes, needs and expectations of everyone involved as opposed to imposing an agreement.

As coaches, we work with our client-participants to help them tell their "side of the story", while ensuring that they also listen respectfully to the perspective of others. Our goal is to foster a win-win environment for all participants during the mediation and conflict resolution process, in hopes of supporting the parties in developing and strengthening coping skills and interpersonal group skills. We measure our success not only by the outcome of the mediation but also by the quality of the experience as reported by our participants.

It is an essential part of the process that people have access to non-confrontational methods of conflict resolution that focus upon restoring and building relationships among individuals and community groups. We also believe that people need to be more informed about mediation and conflict resolution strategies, as it can be a highly effective and empowering method of conflict resolution.

Each mediator gains power by the sheer willingness to listen, to question, to probe, to offer respect to disparate views, and to make an earnest attempt to understand the basis for each side’s position.

The real power, then, comes, not from the active engagement in what we think of as “mediation”, but in the silence that comes with patient listening, thoughtful consideration, and optimism for a different future.  The perspective we are able to offer as the “third side” is no more than the mirror of the perspective of each side to the other.

With creativity and determination, the KCM mediators have achieved all three goals:   prevented violence or conflict from escalating, resolved the actual conflict presented, and contained the violence or dispute so that peace and resolution will be lasting.

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Tino squatted alone at the borehole square. The chilling winter breeze rested on his scantily dressed body, the frosty dew ate from below his bare feet. His hands were frozen, he could not move. The small pieces from the broken 20 litre water bucket he was struggling to lift were strewn all around him. A myriad of questions engulfed him. How would he explain it to his aunt, the bedwetting, now the smashed bucket? Will she spank him again, again for the third time in one morning?

There are many such cases in the Townships, of orphaned children who are left at the mercy of the extended family after their parents die of HIV/AIDS or migrate to the diaspora. The scourge has brought in its wake not only the loss of love but also the disintegration of social structures and support systems and also an increasing emotional distance between families.

In Tafara, Mabvuku and Chizhanje community, TAMACHI Conflict Management Association was established to help residents of this community to deal with all forms of conflicts that they encounter on a day to day basis.  TAMACHI, an all women group strives to create safe spaces for children most of whom are victims of household conflicts, especially vulnerable orphans.

Mrs Chiremba, a member of TAMACHI narrated one among several emotional cases of the nature of abuse children suffer within the family structure. The story was about this seven year old boy, Tino, who lived an isolated life of abuse and misery. After the death of his parents, Tino’s uncle, a brother to his father took him into his house against the wish of his wife. Tino suffered years of physical and verbal abuse from his aunt.
At 7, Tino was a troubled child. In a residential area with water shortages and severe electricity cuts, his cold mornings were packed with household chores, collecting water from the borehole and firewood from far off fields. His school grades were appalling; he had no friends and no one to talk to. However all this abuse went on in the glaring sight of the neighbourhood and the community.

TAMACHI, came to his rescue.  This women’s conflict management group has been engaged in bold efforts to break through the barriers of pain and fear that prevail in a township that has once been plagued by a tragic trail of conflicts for many years.  The Association, comprising of experienced conflict mediators works to bring about harmony through a range of activities that include active listening, counselling and mediations.
“We have realised that so many minors are abused by their closest relatives, neighbours and friends yet the law cannot help them neither can they hear them out,” explained Mrs Dzangare, TAMACHI’s coordinator. “We have been trained and empowered to help rid this community of disputes and conflicts mainly due to misunderstandings in families and in the neighbourhoods”, she added.

The conflict issues vary. Many are between families dating back into yester years; others are intense domestic violence in households. The association partners with the local Police Public Relations department to transform relations in the community.
 “Our main aim is to reduce the crime rate and conflict that has tarnished Tafara and Mabvuku with bad publicity.  Residents should be made aware that dialogue has no costs and it goes a long way in mending relationships. Courts should be the last resort.” Mrs Dzanagare said.
“Several sexual abuse cases that took place some years ago have not been adequately dealt with by law enforcers. To this end neighbours have harboured bitterness, mistrust, hate and even fear towards each other. We intervene in such conflicts and we take time allowing all parties to relate their stories and grief.”

TAMACHI boasts of elder, wise and some middle aged, energetic women who have become the talk of the township. “After going through several well tailored training sessions with CCMT in basic conflict management, communication skills, mediation and moderation we are more confident and experienced. We are well known now, and wherever we go even in local schools, teachers express their relief when they see us. They know we can mediate with their superiors on any dispute.” said Mai Chiremba.

Mai Chiremba is markedly esteemed in this community; she was the main actor in Tino’s case and many others where children were abused. After investigating the young boy’s fate, she quickly alerted the police. As the police dealt with Tino’s foster parents, Mai Chiremba took the boy to the nearest clinic and had him examined. Unfortunately Tino was found HIV positive and had to be enrolled for paediatric anti retro viral drugs. He has since been moved to his biological mother’s sister and now receives basic food rations from a local care giving organisation.
TAMACHI’s work also involves educating the community on creating safe and healthy living conditions for the children who struggle with abuse and neglect. The association, through dialogue and mediation meetings has also managed to counsel parents to help assist their children’s recovery and develop skills to keep them safe by providing for them in all respects. TAMACHI has further intervened in acquiring birth certificates for many orphans in the community.

TAMACHI emphasises that it is everyone’s legal, social and moral responsibility to show love to all children. Children are shaped by what they are called, what they are given, how they dress and the health and education at their disposal. This responsibility starts in the home but flows into the neighbourhood and community at large.

To integrate the youths, the association is making wide strides in engaging the councillors in a bid to resuscitate recreational facilities for them to learn and share their experiences through sports and other activities.  
Barbara Machawira, another member, teacher and sports trainer said “We have realised that conflict in the home and in communities affects children and they are incapable of dealing with it. Such children do less well in school and have more emotional and behavioural problems and are more likely to be delinquent. In the long run, adults who grew up in conflict inflicted households attain lower levels of education, earn less, are more likely to be incarcerated, have children out-of-wedlock and be divorced.”

Barbara adds, “We want to breed a responsible generation of children who live in peaceful and safe neighbourhoods. As we create conducive environments for their survival in their own households, we are sowing the seed for a future harmonious society”.

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