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Violence in Transition

Within Africa, South Africa, Zimbabwe and Kenya represent countries undergoing unique and multifaceted transitions while also sharing some underlying similarities and common policy challenges. The three countries have been chosen for analysis and comparison precisely because they allow us to push the boundaries of the transitional justice field and engage with issues that have their roots in, yet persist beyond, the traditional notion of ‘transition’. All three countries are grappling with issues of violence, transition, democratic governance and citizen security: Kenya and Zimbabwe are considered to be ‘TJ countries’ both in relation to their experience with colonialism and as countries transitioning from dictatorship and recent violence.  South Africa, despite being 15 years into its transition, is still coming to grips with its transitional justice processes and is still facing issues of violence that have their roots in the country’s unresolved legacy of  oppression and conflict. These countries therefore represent what is most complex about a country’s transition to democracy: transition is not linear, and at each step of the convoluted path to democracy there are issues that need to be probed and dealt with in order for the country to progress.

As violence has been and still is an integral part of the transition(s) of South Africa, Zimbabwe and Kenya, and as the violence in one country is not contained therein but impacts on the region as a whole, it is important to map the nature and causes of the violence in these countries and its effects on a region. As such, the research for VTP 3 would be guided by the following overarching questions:

  1. What is the nature of the transition in each country?
  2. What are the nature and forms of violence experienced in each country?
  3. In which ways have the nature and forms of violence changed or been changing?
  4. What are the similarities and differences between the country-specific contexts, and how do these permutations play out through the violence evident in these countries?
  5. What are the key factors in a transitional context which shape the changing patterns of violence?
  6. What impact do existing national or community-centred strategies have in preventing violence?
  7. What additional measures or change in strategy is needed to prevent violence in a transitional context?