Historically, South Africa has lacked a culture of trust in negotiation as a conflict accommodation mechanism. During the security clampdown of the P. W. Botha era in the 1980s and subsequent polarization, concepts such as negotiation and mediation were viewed with suspicion in various quarters. However, paradoxically, the labour legislation introduced in 1979 promoted black empowerment, which was to lead to improved prospects of meaningful negotiation and the acceptability of mediation in resolving labour disputes. Concurrently, the township turbulence of the mid-1980s also led to local-level negotiations between blacks and whites. It was found at the national political level that, whilst the time was not ripe for mediation, low-profile facilitation as a more acceptable form of intervention in fact paved the way for the political breakthrough of 1990. Insights developed during this period led to the formulation of a number of principles of communication and included the reconciliation of seemingly contrasting options such as negotiation and coercion, impartiality and concern, and incremental steps and radical goals.

Included in

Sociology Commons