Thanks to ACCORD it is possible to read about the early history and development of the Independent Mediation Service of South Africa (IMSSA) and the Commission for Conciliation, Mediation and Arbitration (CCMA) seen through the eyes of Charles Nupen.  My involvement began in 1981 when I attended a training course for potential mediators that included Cyril Ramaphosa.  I subsequently served on the Steering Committee with Loet Douws-Dekker, Theo Heffer, Andre Lamprecht and a few others.  Dren Nupen and Bontle Mpakanyane kept everything going in those early years.  In 1984 IMSSA was formerly established thanks to the late attorney Raymond Tucker who drafted the founding documents on a pro amico basis.  The Steering Committee had done its work and I became a panellist.  Click here to see a photo taken in about 1986.


“When the Independent Mediation Service of South Africa (IMSSA) was formed in 1984, largely through the inspirational guidance of Douwes-Dekker, and began to offer mediation services to employers and unions, it was followed not long after by a formal resolution from COSATU that its affiliates would not use mediation.  However, through the persistent low key networking of the IMSSA Board and its two senior staffers Dren Nupen and Bontle Mpakanyane, one by one COSATU affiliates began to break ranks and began using mediation.  The metal workers union as I recall was the first to do so but was soon followed by others.  Early successes in settling seemingly intractable disputes brought more and more employers and unions on board”.

We convened a facilitation process drawing in the leading contractors, union leadership and Eskom, well over 100 participants in all.  Facilitators were deployed to work with the parties and I played an oversight role and took responsibility for drafting proposals for their consideration.  The objective of the facilitation was to produce a game-changing outcome that would provide a more balanced rights regime and create the building blocks for a fundamentally different relationship.  As we analysed the myriad pathologies that characterised the relationships on site, a recurring theme was the absence of any real substantive dialogue between the parties.  So the team decided to present the possibility of a new collective agreement embodying the concept of dialogue-driven partnership”.

Mediation and conflict resolution in South and Southern Africa: A personal account of the past 30 years by Charles Nupen: 2 December 2013.