The ASC arranged for all of the participants on the African Insider Mediators Platform to attend the book launch of the Insurgent Diplomat, a newly released Penguin publication penned by the formed Deputy Minister Aziz Pahad. The event took place at Constitution Hill and was an opportunity to share views and perspectives on the South African transition, the importance of facilitated and mediated dialogue processes and the power of reflective learning in designing effective strategies to engage with and shift power. AIMP participants were honoured to be part of a group that included two former Presidents, Kgalema Mothlanthe and Thabo Mbeki, several former cabinet ministers and a host of activist leadership, both past and present.
Aziz Pahad was a central figure in the secret talks that eventually led to the unbanning of political organizations, the release of Nelson Mandela and the roundtable dialogues that led eventually to the new South African Constitution and the inauguration of Nelson Mandela as President of the new Republic of South Africa. In the book Aziz recounts his early years in South Africa and how the apartheid system and the liberation movement shaped his political ideology. He also describes his time in exile in London and the efforts to build a solidarity movement of anti-apartheid activists and campaigners. Several AIMP participants commented on the humility with which Aziz downplayed his own contribution to the struggle, underscoring the deep seated belief that the personal traits of a mediator, including honesty, mutual understanding and compromise are essential to bringing an end to oppressive contexts of conflict.
The inspiring evening added a great deal of value to the AIMP consultation process. Our appreciation goes out to Deputy Minister Pahad and the event organisers for the opportunity to be part of an historic occasion.