more generally, and for an effective and equal partnership between state agencies and the community. It
traces its origins in both Canada and South Africa, and concludes with a few observations about its theoretical
II: History and Development of the Model
The story begins in Canada in the early 1980s, when the ex-mayor of Toronto, John
Sewell, in his capacity as the Chairman of the Metropolitan Toronto Housing Authority (a
public housing agency), initiated a project to develop an appropriate model for policing public
housing communities. A central feature of the model development process was a pilot study in
which tenants and staff of MTHA were accorded a security budget and worked together to
develop mechanisms for governing security. A key finding of the study was that most of this
budget was spent on mechanisms that mobilized local capacity and knowledge. Monies were
spent on children's programmes, youth programmes, youth employment, the immediate
environment, food for residents, aesthetic improvements and so on. The results were dramatic,
and MTHA incorporated these elements in developing a programme of "social policing".
The next chapter is a long one spread over many years. Over the next two decades a
group of scholars at the Centre of Criminology, University of Toronto, conducted studies of
trends in the governance of security. This period saw the development of notions of 'nodal'
governance rather then state-centred governance, incorporating ideas such as neo-feudalism
and networked policing. One of their conclusions was that in both the public and private sectors
a critical feature of developments in policing was the emergence of a variety of mechanisms
that worked to facilitate the mobilization of local capacity and knowledge in the service of
iii. Needs and Opportunities: the background
As in any colony, the control and management of the resources of South Africa has from
the beginning been carried out primarily for the benefit of minority elites, both in the Dutch
and British homelands and increasingly within the colonised territory itself. This tendency was
sharply reinforced and made exceptionally explicit under the rule of the National Party (1948-1991/94), when the interests of 'whites' (at first referred to in the apartheid discourse as
'Europeans/blankes') were promoted with an unprecedented degree of increasingly manic
comprehensiveness and consistency.
After the unbanning of the liberation movements in 1991, the extent of this gap could not be
glossed over any longer. This was true in all areas of public service, including, of course,
policing. "White" areas had enjoyed a moderate level of conventional policing, while in the rest
of the country the police had for the most part been used (or abused) as instruments of
oppressive control. In the course of the 1980s the ANC instituted a policy of making the
'townships' ungovernable, and developed in many areas an alternative system of management
through civic associations and street committees. Some of these declined into vigilantism and
corruption, but even the most effective and peaceful of them have tended to fade away over the
With respect to policing and the promotion of security, therefore, poor communities appear in
effect to have been abandoned. On the one hand, the reformed South African Police Service
simply does not have the resources to provide an equitable spread of service throughout the
country and is in any case still skewed towards the more privileged areas. On the other hand,
the privatisation of security, which has seen exceptionally rapid recent growth in South Africa
and has in effect taken over the policing of many urban and suburban areas, is not an option in
communities who cannot afford to pay for this service.
There is, in another words, a serious 'governance deficit' in poor communities, not only in
relation to security but also in matters such as health and the provision of services such as
garbage removal, water and electricity. To be fair, this deficit is being addressed at various
levels of government. Nevertheless, this project took two assumptions as its starting points:
first, that it is neither practicable, efficient nor desirable for state agencies in a democracy to
plan, finance and manage a fully comprehensive programme of social services in which the role
of citizens is to be little more than consumers; secondly, that people in poor communities
(where the deficit is greatest) have the local knowledge and the capacity to play an active and
effective role in articulating strategies for dealing with these matters. This model, therefore,
begins by mobilising the resources of these communities around the peaceful resolution of
specific disputes and problems, and in the process builds a form of social capital that may be
deployed in a variety of community-building contexts.
This governance deficit is particularly striking in South Africa as we engage, with limited
resources, in the process of building a democracy after centuries of discrimination and outright
oppression. It may well be, however, that more prosperous and apparently stable countries may
find something to learn from the experience of this project concerning the refreshment and re-invention of democratic practices and the building of conscious, self-respecting and self-directed communities..
iv. South African Developments
In the early 1990 two panels to examine policing in South Africa were convened by the
Goldstone Commission. The first panel was tasked with developing recommendations for the
policing of demonstrations during South Africa's first democratic elections. The second was
charged with developing principles for policing the elections more generally. These panels
drew on ideas developed at MTHA and the research associated with the University of Toronto,
in order to develop an approach to policing the elections that focused on the mobilization of
local capacity and knowledge. In seeking ways of implementing this principle, one of the
members of these panels travelled to Europe and Australia looking for ideas.
The Demonstrations Panel developed a mechanism for policing elections that required
demonstrators to develop plans and capacities for policing demonstrations themselves if they
were to be given a licence to demonstrate. These recommendations led to the acceptance of a
framework for governing demonstrations that all the major parties accepted. This later became
the basis for legislation governing the policing of demonstrations in South Africa. In order to
provide for the implementation of this framework the British Government supported a working
group that designed training materials for marshals to be drawn from the ranks of political
parties. This led to the training of marshals across the country prior to the elections. This
training, and the marshals it produced, played a major role in ensuring the successful
implementation of the recommendations of the Goldstone Commission panel on
demonstrations, and contributed significantly to the peaceful nature of the elections.
v. Model Building
The success of this approach to the policing of demonstrations encouraged Dullah
Omar, then South African Minister of Justice, and George Fivas, then the National
Commissioner of the South African Police, to support a project in local capacity policing that
would incorporate the principles of the early MTHA work and the Goldstone panels in
developing a model for the policing of very poor communities within South Africa. The
community of Zwelethemba, a black township in Worcester, a town about a hundred kilometres
north of Cape Town, was selected as a pilot site for developing the model. A key objective of
this project was the promotion of community-based processes that would lead to the deepening
of democracy. A central vision guiding the model-building team has been that the model
should be very simple, attractive to communities and governments, and be easy to extend to
other poor communities. A metaphor used to capture this vision was that of a benign "cultural
virus". The model has been dubbed the Zwelethemba Model in recognition of the contribution
of the community of Zwelethemba to its development.
Over the last two years the model has been extended beyond its initial focus on security alone
to embrace wider governmental concerns, and is now operating in 14 communities in the
Western Cape and in pilot sites in three other provinces. During this period the Zwelethemba
model has been endorsed by the Law Commission of South Africa and the Deputy Minister of
Justice as a suitable model for community-based dispute resolution.
An extension of the model is taking place in two pilot projects located in Rosario, Argentina.
This three-year project began in November 2000. The ideas being developed through these
projects have found expression recently in the report of the Independent Commission of
Policing in Northern Ireland. This report promotes a view of policing that stresses the
importance of security budgets and the mobilization of local knowledge and capacity.
III: The Zwelethemba Model
i. Structure and Process
The Zwelethemba Model incorporates or is made up of a rationality or way of thinking, a set of institutional
arrangements and a technology for realizing local capacity governance that approaches governance through the
'window' of security. At the core of the model is a dispute resolution process - called peacemaking - that gathers
together local people who are considered to have the knowledge and capacity to contribute to a solution. This process
eschews the identification of a victim and an offender, on the grounds that in most community-level disputes people
shift between these statuses as the dispute develops. A related feature of the model is its focus on finding solutions that
will create a better future rather than focusing on the past. Members of the community come together in structures
called Peace Committees which facilitate Gatherings that bring community members together within a problem-solving forum.
The Model provides for two payments for each Gathering held in accord with a Code of Good Practice and
the peacemaking principles that the model promotes, as reflected in a comprehensive report on the Gathering. R200 is
an in-the-pocket payment divided among the Peace Committee members who facilitated in that Gathering; this money
directly recognizes the value of their work. This is matched by another R200 which goes into the Committee's
peacebuilding fund that is to be used to respond to generic problems within the community; after a process of
reflection and consultation, this fund is used to support micro-enterprises whose values and objectives coincide with
the projects identified and planned by the Peace Committee.. In South Africa at the moment the bulk of this money
comes from local governments, and constitutes a micro-governance budget that is injected directly into
To date over 1300 peace-gatherings have been held in South Africa. At the time of writing
we have analysed the reports of 942 gatherings, which have taken place over 2.5 years. These
gatherings have generated about R160 000 in revenues for Peace Committees. All of these
revenues have been, or will be, spent in these communities.
Over 7000 people have been involved in participating directly in solving problems in their
communities through the window of gatherings. That is, over 6600 people have had the
experience of shifting their stance from one of dependency to one of responsibility and of
moving from an orientation of blame to one that was focused on creating a new future. On
average, 5.6 Peace Committee members were involved in each gathering.
In gatherings, 57% of the participants were women, and 12% were youth. 62% of the Peace
Committee members who facilitated gatherings were women.
The distribution of issues that gave rise to gatherings was as follows. The most frequent issues
(31%) were to do with money (money-lending disputes, non-payment of loans or for goods and
misappropriation of funds). Insults, threats and gossiping made up 27% of the total number,
while non-sexual assaults and fighting made up 14%. Gatherings were held for two rapes and
two attempted rapes.
In 96% of the gatherings held, the participants developed a course of action and people
committed themselves to it. In a little under three quarters of the gatherings some gesture
marking the end of the conflict took place. At times this involved everyone present making a
commitment to peace. At other times only the disputants were involved.
Examples of projects developed and financially supported through the peacebuilding process
• The building and maintenance of a children's playground in a shack area far from any
• The refurbishment of an old-age home
• Rubbish-clearing, in cooperation with youth football teams.
• Assistance in furnishing a new day care centre.
• Supporting and extending a feeding scheme for children
• A youth project (sports, arts and culture).
IV: How Health Comes Into the Model
Poor communities tend to be at elevated risk of HIV, poor maternal-child health and other health problems
because they face more assaults on their health, have less information about health, and less capacity to take collective
action compared to more affluent communities. Health interventions that focus on a particular disease, without
addressing root causes or the social environment, are insufficient. The Zwelethemba Model is a platform for
informational and behavioral interventions, but more importantly it also addresses root causes of community health
vulnerability, and fosters community efficacy in the cause of disease prevention and health promotion.
The Model is designed to reduce community vulnerability by addressing root causes. Recent work in social
epidemiology has identified key social determinants of health. Collective community characteristics such as social
capital and social cohesion are strong predictors of population health.