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Title: Building capacity for reconciliation through a restorative-based intervention in Zimbabwe
Authors: Mhandara, Lawrence 
Issue Date: May-2017
Policy makers and scholarship on peacebuilding are increasingly attracted to the notion of reconciliation. In recent years, this interest has expanded. This is especially visible in the aftermath of the South African experience following the activities of the Truth and Reconciliation Commission (TRC). In fact, peacebuilding efforts after violent experiences are usually accompanied by powerful calls to go the reconciliation route. Reconciliation as a process can be seen as involving transformation in attitudes and perspectives toward others. As an outcome, it can be regarded as mutual acceptance of the other in a peaceful relationship and the sustainability of that acceptance; accompanied by a commitment to bind relationships on future interest than being stuck with the past. Yet reconciliation remains a profound challenge in societies that experience political violence. Equally, Zimbabwe is facing a similar situation despite a series of state-centred efforts at reconciliation. From the 1980 policy of national reconciliation to the National Peace and Reconciliation Commission (NPRC), a constant pattern of inefficacy is observed.

This study was born out of the need to find out why reconciliation in Zimbabwe has become elusive which has negatively affected people’s relationships. The aim of the study was to devise a restorative- based intervention to build capacity for reconciliation among a small sample of adults in Harare. The primary question was: How can people affected by political violence but continuing to live together participate in building their own capacity to promote reconciliation in the absence of effective state interventions? I conceptualised reconciliation based on the theory of restoration as an approach that can transform relationships toward peaceful interaction. This yielded a theoretical framework that combined elements of reconciliation, restorative justice and conflict transformation theories, which was the basis for designing and analysing findings. A qualitative methodology combining interviews and focus group discussions was utilised. Within this paradigm, action research was the main design, in which one cycle was utilized by the action group to implement an intervention. Action group participants’ responses offer evidence of how building capacity for reconciliation needs to be conceptualised through interventions that are participatory, collaborative and centred on the locals. The study further reveals that restorative-focused dialogical conversations followed by symbolic gestures of reconciliation are useful in restoring broken relationships. This was found to be a viable alternative to promoting reconciliation in the absence of effective state responses.

This study is significant in that it integrates academic and practical knowledge while contributing to peacebuilding practice.
Submitted in fulfillment of the requirements of the degree of Doctor of Philosophy in Public Administration: Peace Studies, Durban University of Technology, Durban, South Africa, 2017.
Appears in Collections:Theses and dissertations (Management Sciences)

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