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Sources of conflict: The South African Example By Chux Iwu

What is conflict?

Any disagreement that has the potential of derailing the objectives of an organisation can
be regarded as a conflict. Conflicts usually have a source or sources.

Purpose of the article

This material does not wish to deal with the legislative processes of dealing with
workplace conflict but to look at those factors that bring about conflict.

These elements of diversity have the potential to torture an organisations commitment to


reaching its objectives. If there are no measures to work these elements of diversity, they
can cause conflict.

Take language for instance. In South Africa, there are 11 official languages. Meetings
would require a great deal of consideration for others in terms of the language that will be
used. Religion would also cause a bit of discomfort. Fridays are to Moslems what
Sundays mean to a Christian. Moslems religiously worship at the mosque on Fridays.
Now the question that gropes the mind is, would lunch time be used for the mosque? Or
should the Moslem still have lunch and a certain time carved out for lunch? These are
some issues that are currently being discussed. While the Christians would disagree that
these Moslems can not eat their cake and have it, others are showing a bit of support.

The constitution of the Republic of South Africa allows for free social processes, yet
some South Africans are marginalized on the basis of their sexual preference. In a
department or unit with a marginal number of homosexuals, there has been complaint
around acceptance. If a diverse issue such as this is not dealt with, certainly it will result
in conflict.

South Africans, though slightly metropolitan in attitude are yet to accept women as part
and parcel of an integrated society. Often times, you hear of women who have felt a
certain degree of frustration because their male colleagues have blatantly refused to see
them as equals or even as superiors.

Laws are good. They tend to give us direction. But at the same time they have their poor
sides. Because they give us direction, they do not allow for creativity. It has been argued
by several professionals, that laws tend to over-structure us. And as human beings, we
revolt when we are unable to live our lives the way we would like to. South Africa has
just emerged from apartheid and is looking at righting the wrongs of the past through the
introduction of some legislations. The Labour Relations Act (LRA), Employment Equity
Act (EEA) and Affirmative Action (AA), all have the objective of propagating fair
employment practices at the workplace. The minority in South Africa currently view
these legislations as reverse discrimination.