This presentation based on a wider project investigating the links between the management of intra-political party disputes and wider political violence often witnessed in Kenya and South Africa during competitive political processes. Although there have been recent constitutional reforms of public governance systems aimed at avoiding violence as a means of resolving disputes in many African societies, such reforms have not always extended to dispute management within and between political parties. In the case of Kenya and South Africa, the inadequacy of the aforementioned reforms has made political parties to be the Achilles’ heel of the respective national peace infrastructures. This study examined a number of thematic issues related to participation and representation in the activities of political parties in Kenya and South Africa. These issues are focused on: (i) linkages between political parties and political violence, (ii) gender dynamics and women’s participation in political parties, (iii) electoral violence, (iv) the conundrum of ethnic and race relations, (v) the media and political violence, and (vi) youth and political party violence. Based on the findings of this study, I argue that the modus operandi of political parties in Kenya and South Africa, for the most part, do not enhance cultures of peaceful resolution of disputes. Many disputes within political parties are not adequately resolved over a period of time and the net result has been that their members have cultivated and maintained political cultures in which violence is considered a solution to political disputes within the parties and with other parties. This partially explains the cyclical nature of political violence in the two countries. Ultimately, this study adds a voice to the rallying call for effective management of intra-political party disputes so that they do not percolate into society and contribute to political violence in Kenya and South Africa.



John Ahere is finalising his PhD research at the University of New England (UNE). His research is on the role of political parties in political violence in Kenya and South Africa. Prior to joining UNE in December 2016, John was the head of the Peacebuilding Unit at the African Centre for the Constructive Resolution of Disputes (ACCORD) which is based in South Africa. He has been privileged to be part of teams that have implemented conflict management initiatives in at least 12 African countries. As a researcher, he is generally interested in international politics and its linkages to peace, security and development.