The aim of this study is an examination of the Southern African Development
Community's (SADC) conflict resolution role (through multilateral mediation) in the
Zimbabwe conflict and to determine how this role impacted on the development and
outcome of the conflict. The underlying problem is not so much the intervention of
SADC but the process and impact thereof. The primary research question is: Would
the events in Zimbabwe and the outcome of the 'Zimbabwe-problem' have been
substantially different without the involvement and conflict resolution role of SADC?
This question is underpinned by two subsidiary questions: Firstly, what was the conflict
management role, including that of conflict resolution, that SADC played? Secondly,
did this role contribute to a positive outcome by overcoming limitations and how? In
response the argument is that SADC, despite institutional limitations and operational
constraints, played a positive role that prevented an escalation of the conflict and
that contributed to a de-escalation thereof on account of its mediation.
The study includes a framework for analysis to explore the conflict resolution role of
a regional organisation in intra-state (domestic) conflict; a contextualisation of
SADC's role with reference to the nature, scope and development of the 'Zimbabweproblem'
as conflict; the analysis of the conflict resolution role through SADC
mediation; and an evaluation of key findings as a basis for policy and research
recommendations. The study is demarcated in conceptual, temporal and geopolitical
terms. At a conceptual level, the key variables are conflict, conflict resolution and the
role of international (regional) organisations. In terms of time-frame, the study covers the period from 2002 to 2014. The commencement year of 2002 is based on the
constitutional and humanitarian crises that emerged and necessitated SADC
intervention. The concluding year of 2014 marks the first full year since the end of
the Global Political Agreement's (GPA) Government of National Unity (GNU) and
allows for a retrospective assessment of the outcome(s) of SADC's role. The noncomparative
case study focuses on Zimbabwe as the national-level and SADC as
the regional-level (Southern African) units of analysis. The research design is that of
a historical case study and entails a critical literature-documentary analysis.
Although SADC's initial response and involvement was delayed and limited, it
developed into a concerted mediation effort and a dedicated conflict resolution role.
This role, despite limitations and constraints, overcame challenges and produced a
settlement agreement. It is evident that events in Zimbabwe and the outcome of the
'Zimbabwe-problem' would have been substantially different and undeniably more
detrimental (even disastrous) not only to Zimbabwe but also to the Southern
African region without SADC's involvement and conflict resolution role. Its intervention
contributed to the de-escalation of the conflict and to acceptable levels of stability
(unstable peace) in the region and within the country. A retrospective and diachronic
assessment confirms a relative improvement in political, economic and social conditions
(if juxtaposed with the first decade of the 2000s. This, however, does not imply a
termination of the conflict and the existence of stable peace. The residue of
dissatisfaction produced by the GPA; the prevailing electoral and constitutional
contestation; and the authoritarian and repressive regime trends still apparent in
Zimbabwe attest to continued latent and manifest conflict. This confirms the tenet
that intra-state conflict is never really terminated, seldom resolved but only managed
in an effective manner to produce a minimally acceptable outcome of unstable peace.
Mini Dissertation (M Security Studies)--University of Pretoria, 2017.