The power of principled negotiation

Participants attending the Principled negotiation training

Participants attending the Principled negotiation training

It is absurd that people fight, destroy, burn bridges and create a lot of unnecessary animosity between themselves and thereafter, sit around the table and try to find each other again. Selfishness, competition, greed and self-aggrandisement have led the world to become the mess it is today.

The ability to negotiate and the necessary preparation for the actual negotiation are important life skills that can make families, organisations, companies and even countries successful in their day to day undertakings. In agriculture, contracts and partnerships have become increasingly unavoidable and are not a bad idea if they are agreed upon and sealed on equal terms.

As farmers, we need to stand our ground and push our partners in business to realise and recognise that our relationships are or should be mutually beneficial. We are equal partners and our role as producers cannot be substituted by any other arrangement. So, our power lies in our ability to negotiate and capacity building in that regard should be part of our annual activities.

Recognising the importance of this skill, SACAU in partnership with We Effect hosted a principled negotiation training workshop from 15 to 17 October 2018 in Boksburg, South Africa. The training was ably conducted by Professor David Venter, a renowned expert in negotiations. The three “Cs” namely, capability, competence and confidence in negotiating were the take away message for the participants. Participants also heard that in negotiations there are two important things that empower the negotiator, namely; information and time. They also learned that negotiating creates value rather than destroy it.

The corner posts/ deal parameters of negotiation are aspiration base, the real base, the best alternative to a negotiated agreement and the first offers. The aspiration base is what we want to achieve and quite often we aspire too low. The real base is that point when a negotiator calls it quits because there will not be any reasonable gain in pursuing the deal. When one walks away, they do not necessarily stop the idea, they walk away to the best alternative and this best alternative must always be part of the planning and preparation for negotiations.

The “first offers” is the value or price a negotiator pitches at and this number must always be evidence-based from market research or intelligence. There are also danger signs or points of caution when negotiating a deal. Assumptions, mental flexibility, relationships, perceptions and framing are critical elements to be considered because they can easily make or break deals. In addition, when negotiating, a conducive climate for the negotiation process to take place in such a way that positive results are achieved for both parties needs to always be created.

The Professor concluded the training by showing a video of Dr. Robert Cialdini, currently the world’s most sought-after social scientist, summarising the six rules of human behavior and how one can get people to say yes to requests. With stunning examples, Dr. Cialdini captures one’s imagination as he deals with each of the six rules, namely; reciprocity, scarcity, authority, consistency/ commitment, consensus and liking.

The participants in this year’s principled negotiation training were drawn from SACAU’s members and other We Effect partners. The We Effect partners are civil society organisations mainly from Zimbabwe, Zambia and Malawi.


New funding agreement signed with We Effect

SACAU recently signed a five-year funding agreement with We Effect, its longest development partner. The agreement is for the period 01 January 2018 to 31 December 2022.

The funding will provide support towards the implementation of SACAU’s Strategic Framework and the associated Operational Plan (OP). This contribution forms part of the We Effect “Equality First: Civil Society for Sustainable Rural Development – Zimbabwe” Sida Civsam Sub-Programme. The agreement also provides for technical support during implementation.

We Effect was instrumental in the establishment of the Secretariat and has over the years continued to provide core support to the organisation, amongst others. Through this support, SACAU managed to strengthen its position as one of the key players in agricultural development in the region and beyond.

The organisation also managed to build and strengthen its service delivery capabilities to members and stakeholders, and to mobilise and successfully manage much more development support from a range of partners. In addition, the organisation started implementing initiatives that will enhance its long-term sustainability.

We wish to extend our gratitude to We Effect and look forward to a fruitful collaboration over the next five years. The support will enable us to continue delivering against our strategy and be of service to our members and stakeholders.

SACAU Members and We Effect partners sharpen their skills in “policy influencing”


Eighteen (18) officials from SACAU member organisations and We Effect partners were trained on how to effectively influence agricultural policies in their respective countries from 20th to 23rd June 2017.

The 4-day training took place in Pretoria, South Africa and focused on practical aspects of designing and executing effective advocacy plans. Ten (10) basic steps for effective advocacy and how one could become a good lobbyist were the backbone of the discussion. “Policy change is driven by specific individuals in an organisation, and as such, effective influencing should aim at persuading such individuals in the organisation for change. These are the people that could drive the desired change”, said the trainer Mr Antoon Blokland. People tend to be conservative and they don’t change easily.

The starting point is to understand values and interests of the change agents and ensure that your propositions do not compromise these values. Stepping into the shoes of the powerful is the way to know their values and interests. He emphasised this as the main task of a lobbyist. A clear message was that influencing policy is a long-term process and that a good lobbyist will always aim at having a plan that will address issues bit by bit.

Sometimes there is a need for a three to fiveyear plan with specific milestones along the period. In addition, Mr. Blokland stated that issue-driven influencing is more effective and efficient than organisational-based influence that deploys a one size fits all approach. Trainees were informed that change agents differ per issue, thus issue-driven strategies take these differences into account. Thus, influencing should be tailor-made to the context of the issue and the capacities of the organisation. Participants then applied the theory to address real policy bottlenecks from their respective countries and came up with plans for advocacy on these issues. The general feedback was positive, and one participant pointed out that “this training has given insights and strengthened my skills to be structured and pro-active policy influencer.”

Minister Gugile Nkwinti addresses land tenure security conference

Minister Gugile Nkwinti opening the land conference.

                   Minister Gugile Nkwinti opening the land conference.

Mr Gugile Nkwinti, the Minister of Rural Development and Land Reform of the Republic of South Africa, addressed delegates at the consultative meeting for Farmers’ Organisations (FOs) on land tenure security and agricultural transformation in the smallholder sector in southern Africa. The meeting was co-hosted by We Effect and SACAU from 22nd to 23rd May 2017 in Cape Town, South Africa (SA).

The Minister shared the various experiences of South Africa in dealing with land issues. “No political democracy can survive and flourish if the mass of our people remain in poverty without land and without tangible prospects for a better life. Attacking poverty and deprivation must therefore be the first priority of a democratic government,” he quoted from the country’s National Development Plan. He stated that this was the mandate of government to which land was central. “South Africa is creating a new tenure system and trying to bring all South Africans on board, particularly women,”said Minister Nkwinti. He stated that the country is not only addressing the colonial legacy but pre-colonial legacy, particularly as there are still remnants of the feudal system that still show up now and again.

The one household one hectare concept was established and this will amongst others ensure that there is some institutional form of protection for the family, particularly women in rural areas. “The communal land tenure bill is entrenching the security of women through one household one hectare,” he said. He also mentioned that the democratic values enshrined in the constitution need to be upheld and this means title deeds need to be provided. “We don’t want people to continue living in rural areas under a feudal system when we have a constitutional democracy – the two cannot co-exist forever,” he further stated.

On the lessons learned, he first emphasised that the government wants to ensure that every piece of land is cultivated and asserted that if all South Africans who have land were using the land gainfully, “we would have a different South Africa today.” Communal property associations were created but these came with problems – trust. This involves giving land to groups of people who have never worked together, and not to individuals, thus leading to conflicts which usually result in no production and lands that are lying fallow. In other instances, people who have been given title deeds obtain loans that they eventually fail to service and the land goes back to those it was acquired from while others fight over resources provided to work the land.

People were also given land because they were unemployed thinking that they would be farmers. “These are the issues SA is addressing and we want to learn from others in Africa,” said the Minister. The Minister also highlighted that the question of sharing land equitably across race groups needs to be addressed as it undermines equity among races. On the question of how much land has been distributed, it becomes difficult to answer until such time the land audit has been finalised. The same applies to the hectares lying fallow. He also referred to the regulation of the landholding bill which does not allow foreign nationals in SA to own land but to have the right to lease it for a minimum of 30 years.

SACAU and We Effect Annual Review meeting – greater collaboration in 2017


SACAU hosted Mr Goran Forssén and Ms Jennipher Sakala from We Effect on 9th February for an annual review of progress made in 2016 in the implementation of its operational plan.

The meeting discussed the annual report which highlighted the main activities undertaken and associated results, lessons learnt and risks and their mitigation amongst others. We Effect expressed satisfaction with SACAU’s progress.

The organisations also updated each other on developments within their respective organisations.  SACAU learnt of We Effect’s new global strategy for 2017 to 2021 which is said to have a strong focus on gender and the use of a rights-based approach. An external evaluation of We Effect’s Farmers’ Organisations Fighting Poverty and Injustice (FOFPI), in which SACAU will also take part, will be undertaken in the first quarter of this year.

Arrangements to host a consultation forum, which follows a land tenure study which was carried out late in 2016 were deliberated and will be shared with members and stakeholders soon. The study looked at the impact of land tenure systems on agricultural transformation in selected countries in the region.

SACAU shares plans for 2017 at the 2016 We Effect Annual Coordination Meeting




We Effect, SACAU’s longest serving development partner, annually convenes coordination meetings for their partners in southern Africa.

Last year, the coordination meeting took place in Lusaka, Zambia from the 22nd – 24th November.

SACAU and some of its members from Malawi and Zimbabwe were also part of this convening, which among other things allowed partners to share on results achieved during the year, lessons learnt and challenges faced in the implementation of their programmes.

Best practices on how to achieve equal gender representation within decision-making structures of partner organisations were shared, while also exploring how the youth could be supported to take up farming as a career of choice and actively participate in business.

Lastly, the meeting aimed to plan the We Effect technical support for the year 2017 in the areas of result monitoring, study circles and gender mainstreaming. The 2017 plan for the regional collaboration between SACAU and We Effect on cotton and dairy which has been going on for the past few years was shared with partner organisations.

This will be communicated with the respective organisations in due course to ensure that like 2016, the 2017 support year is a prosperous one for all involved. Given the devastating effects which the El Niño induced drought has had on the region, more so in Malawi and Zimbabwe, the meeting also identified strategies to build resilience to climate variability and discuss the formulation of joint country programmes.

Partners were also exposed to the Rights Based Approach (RBA) and the application of rights-based principles among partner organisations. This method will be embedded in all of We Effect’s programmes going forward.

We Effect was previously known as the Swedish Cooperative Centre, and works in 25 countries in Africa, Asia, Europe and Latin America.