2003 Winner
Mpumalanga Province, South Africa
Impumelelo Innovations Award Trust
Impumelelo Innovations Award Trust
South Africa

The human cost of small arms misuse has social and economic consequences- also affecting the opportunities and productivity of poor communities. Scarce resources are devoted to the treatment & care of victims of violence, as well as to informal & unregulated forms of security- such as para-militarism & vigilantism. Smalls arms misuse is also strongly associated with the increasing lethality of criminality, forced migration, the deterioration of investment & trade & the obstruction of aid delivery & assistance. Both directly & indirectly, small arms misuse undermines the quality & quantity of development in poor countries. Since the end of the "Cold War" Southern Africa has been left with a large number of weapons. These weapons have kept social stability & human development hostage as they are used to fuel crime & violence. Mozambique (Gaza Province) & South Africa (Mpumalanga Province) had no choice but to co-operate across borders to address this problem. Operation Rachel was implemented in 1996 to search for these weapons & to destroy them when found. This project targeted poor communities in South Africa & Mozambique. The destruction of arms caches in Mozambique by the South African Police Service (SAPS) was a pro-active approach in combating serious & violent crime as well as maintaining law & order within South Africa. Mozambique benefited from the demilitarization of the society. The result was peace & stability, which created a stable environment for foreign investment, job opportunities & economic growth.

Innovation: The approach was unique in that in the past people were prosecuted, what happened instead was that people were co-opted, worked with & generally rewarded (financially) for disclosing arms caches. For the sake of reconciliation, an undeclared amnesty was introduced.

Effectiveness: Thus far 8 operations have been conducted. In each of these operations between 40-50 community members and police personnel from both South Africa & Mozambique participated. An estimated 320 people were involved, with the reward ranging from agricultural equipment, seedling & to financial compensation. Numerous arms were also destroyed. For example, 4356 submachine-guns, 23072 rifles, 183 vehicles mines & 3158 personal mines were destroyed.

Poverty Impact: With stability & peace re-entering Mozambique an enabling environment has been created for investment to occur.

Sustainability: Ongoing operation with funding obtained from various sources. Since its inception an estimated R10 million was spent.

Replication: Commitment from government was important for the project to succeed. The lessons of Operation Rachel will prove valuable for other regions considering similar programmes.