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27 August 2013, 07:35

The importance of Reconciliation, Mediation and Arbitration

Parties in a civil matter in South Africa can choose to use arbitration instead of the courts to put an end to the dispute between them.

The Labour Relations Act, 1995 was promulgated to establish the Commission for Conciliation Mediation and Arbitration (CCMA). The purpose of the CCMA is, inter alia, to provide simple procedures for the resolution of labour disputes through statutory conciliation, mediation and arbitration.

According to “”, the definition for reconciliation in re conflict resolution is the re-establishing of normal relations between belligerents.  Most people are open to reconciliation and it is therefore the reason why some countries have legislation in place to guide people through the process to reconcile. In South Africa, the new Government establish the Truth and Reconciliation Commission (TRC) during 1995 to endeavour amending the past crimes so that the people of the country could “forgive and forget”, and move on with their lives. The TRC investigated Human Rights Violations (HRV), granting amnesty under certain conditions and Reparation and Rehabilitation.

We are now living in the post-TRC period. It is apparent from the daily news reports that the nation is struggling with high levels of crime and family violence. Again, we need to be reconciled with each other to stop the crimes, family violence and hateful remarks and conducts. Religious people go to, inter alia, churches, synagogues and mosques to hear sermons about forgiveness and reconciliation, hoping and praying that they will be able to forgive those who have sinned against them and also to get forgiveness of their own sins.

In general, governments encourage their citizens to forgive and to live in harmony with each other. The latter is not easy in the light of South Africa’s past history and the cosmopolitan community nature of a complex society. People tend to be judgmental and will take a stand against a person or an act they feel strongly about. Perception plays a major role and it is up to upstanding and admired professionals and people of a high moral lifestyle to break down unfair and untrue perceptions. Here, the media plays a divisive role and the courts need to re-establish the equilibrium from the wrongful perception using legal principles, for example the audi alteram partem rule, which means that you need to hear an accuser’s version of events before you can judge him or her. The person will then be found guilty only after it is established beyond reasonable doubt that he or she is guilty of the offence. Due process needs to be followed for a fair hearing and citizens needs to abide to the process and will be discourage from taking the law into their own hands. This process protects everybody and will prevent people from killing each other in a modern and open society. It also guards against a failed state scenario, which can and will be disastrous for the relevant nation and its inhabitants. Somalia is known as a failed state and this fact has currently disastrous consequences for that region where sea piracy is practiced. The afore-mentioned situation should be a big warning for South Africa and we all need to try to resolve our disputes through arbitration, mediation and reconciliation wherever possible. I am open for reconciliation for any past wrongs I have done to anybody and hope that you are as well.

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