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Studia Historiae Ecclesiasticae

versão On-line ISSN 2412-4265
versão impressa ISSN 1017-0499

Studia Hist. Ecc. vol.37 no.2 Pretoria Set. 2011


The Church as a peace broker: The case of the Natal Church Leaders' Group and political violence in KwaZulu-Natal (1990 - 1994)



Michael Mbona

School of Religion and Theology, University of KwaZulu-Natal, Pietermaritzburg, South Africa




Moves by the state to reform the political landscape in South Africa at the beginning of 1990 led to increased tension between the Inkatha Freedom Party and the African National Congress in the province of Natal and the KwaZulu homeland. Earlier efforts by the Natal Church Leaders' Group to end hostilities through mediation had yielded minimal results. Hopes of holding the first general democratic election in April 1994 were almost dashed due to Inkatha's standoff position until the eleventh hour. This article traces the role played by church leaders in seeking to end the bloody clashes taking place at that time by engaging with the state and the rival political parties between 1990 and 1994. Despite the adoption of new strategies, challenges such as internal divisions, blunders at mediation, and the fact that the church leaders were also "political sympathisers", hampered progress in achieving peace. While paying tribute to the contribution of other team players, this article argues that an ecumenical initiative was responsible for ending the politically motivated brutal killings in KwaZulu-Natal in the early years of 1990.



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1 This article follows on, as part two, from a previous article by the same author. The first article focused on the period 1987 to early 1990 and this second article draws attention to the work of the Natal Church Leaders' Group in the years between 1990 and 1994. See Michael Mbona, "On embassy to Ulundi: the Natal Church Leaders' Group mediation attempts in war-torn Natal (1987-1990)", Studia Historiae Ecclesiasticae 36, 1, (May 2010), 141-162.
2 Michael Mbona is a PhD student in the History of Christianity programme, School of Religion and Theology at the University of KwaZulu-Natal under the supervision of Professor Philippe Denis.

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