ICON: Continuity and change in nonviolence

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ICON: Continuity and change in nonviolence

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ICON: Continuity and change in nonviolence

Crispin Hemson

Director, International Centre of Nonviolence, Durban



To locate our work on nonviolence in relation to global and South African developments

To set out the ways in which structural violence continues, and the ways in which those committed to nonviolence need to respond

To locate the work of

the International Centre of

Nonviolence within

such responses


2006 conference resolution:

We pledge to take forward the struggle for nonviolence and the peaceful resolution of conflict whether in our own lives, or in our organizations, locally, nationally or internationally by uniting together to work together as participants at this conference to:-

Establish Centres for Non-Violence based on the principles of Satyagraha and Ubuntu;

Lobby for the inclusion of the basic principles of Satyagraha within local regional and international fora such as the World Social Forum

Continue our dialogue

Broaden our engagement with organs of civil society to create a global movement for peace and non-violence through Satyagraha, and to work to end injustice, dehumanizing violence, destruction and economic exploitation and oppression of a large section of society.


Since 2006

The destructive nature of the global financial system is more visible

The accelerating decline in the health of the world’s ecosystems is more visible

We see violence being constantly reproduced, including by those who have themselves been the victims of violence

We also see movements to assert humanity, often faltering and uneven


The nature of structural violence



structures – economic, political, legal, religious, and cultural – that stop individuals, groups, and societies from reaching their full potential


What we usually mean by the term ‘violence’ can be defined as ‘personal violence’

Helpful to keep both concepts together as ways of thinking about the why and the how of violence


Violence in South Africa

December 2010: JOHANNESBURG (miningweekly.com) – Embattled Aurora Empowerment

Systems, owners of


[‘large wetland’] mine,

said on Wednesday that it was being held under siege by illegal miners plundering

the mine

, east of Johannesburg.

Aurora GM Louis


 said that the “extremely violent” illegal miners had been stripping unused shafts of metal and other valuables since the mine went onto care and maintenance in March


Rhetoric of violence, criminality and dishonesty.


Grootvlei Mine was bought by Aurora Empowerment Systems in late 2009 from liquidators of previous owner..Closure of mines raises major concerns because of the permanent damage caused by mining: underground water becomes contaminated through chemical reactions with exposed rock, and requires ongoing treatment.


Directors of Aurora include Khulubuse Zuma (President Jacob Zuma's nephew, on left), Zondwa Mandela (Nelson Mandela's grandson, on right) and Michael Hulley (legal adviser to the President)


The new owners stopped paying wages in February 2010, while gold was removed from the mine and equipment stripped

The mine stopped treating contaminated water, which began to flow into the wetland


Acid mine water flowing into local streamMarch 2010

The Blesbokspruit flows into a Ramsar site (a wetland of recognised international significance).


April 2010; Workers protest at non-payment. Tear gas and rubber bullets are used to disperse them. August 2010: Security chief (‘Bad Brad’) at mine shoots dead four illegal miners


January 2011

Pumps were removed from the flooded Aurora owned mine for repair, leading to flooding of the eastern mining basin, east of Johannesburg. According to liquidator, Enver Motala, the switch off was planned. “The water pumps were removed and have to be repaired. It’s a normal routine. In one or two months the situation will be returned to normal.” He said that the flooding could be contained for up to six months before it would be a crisis.


September 2011

Enver Motala no longer allowed to practise as a liquidator as a result of having lied about his previous convictions for fraud under his previous name, Enver Dawood. New liquidators appointed.


November 2011

Paddy Harper miningmx.com Sun:


papers filed in the Pretoria High  Court this week, liquidators said the Master of the High Court inquiry into the Aurora deal had heard evidence of how the money was illegally diverted into an account controlled by Aurora.

Aurora‘s directors and managers sold R122m worth of gold from the mines and paid themselves and their families with the proceeds instead of paying running costs and staff.

The money was then paid to directors, managers and their family members instead of being used to pay creditors – as was agreed with the liquidation team headed by Motala.



2011: Khulubuse Zuma purchases Maserati for R1 million

March 2012

20 miners died in illegal mining

April 2012

Gold One buys


Workers are hopeful that at least some will get jobs


What we see in the case study

How those who acted as agents of the oppression tried to portray those who suffered most directly – miners –as violent and



closely related violence against people is related to violence against the



quickly people with a history of struggle against oppression can become agents of oppression. ‘The enemy’ is not one group, but relationships of power, domination and


The possibility of new forms of collaboration and unity across groups divided through history, such as white and black



What does this tell us about structural violence?


violence sets up a situation in which the exercise of personal violence becomes more likely. Structural violence also enables the normalisation of personal violence against certain groups.

We can have major political change, but unless we face up to the role of structural and personal violence, long-term positive change is not possible

Violence is linked to corruption and secrecy. When the justice system and the media carry out their professional work, they are a force for nonviolence.


What response is needed?

The need to keep hope and build confidence that we can bring change

Developing ways of resisting structural violence – education, developing alliances across difference, modelling alternatives

Strengthening the ability of institutions such as the law and media as forces for democracy and truth

Creating spaces within society in which nonviolence is modelled and hope restored


Implications for the work of an International Centre of Nonviolence

ICON is a non-profit organisation based at, and linked to, Durban University of Technology

After a recent evaluation process, we agreed that

our focus is specifically

structural violence

‘Strategic interventions in education related to nonviolence’

Crucially, our educational work needs to model nonviolence and be a force for a change




Building a network of those who can work

for nonviolence through

and within


Specific areas of action:

- higher education, especially teacher education

- developing nonviolent ways of working with teachers at all levels

- research that leads into action

- popular dissemination of ideas

- developing a core of people with the understanding and skill to work

with nonviolence


Developing a model for nonviolent practice within development projects

Immensity of task; this takes time, but even the smallest step forward matters.



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