Stop the fight­ing

Know how to pre­vent a squab­ble from turn­ing into full-scale war­fare in your stokvel by know­ing when and how to get in­volved, writes Xoliswa Mh­laba

Move! Stokvel - - Contents -

CON­FLICTS in stokvels can be com­mon, like in any other group set­ting. Think of work, church and fam­i­lies. There is al­ways some form of con­flict when peo­ple with dif­fer­ent per­son­al­ties and ex­pec­ta­tions come to­gether. That con­flict can af­fect or de­stroy the group.


Ac­cord­ing to clin­i­cal psy­chol­o­gist, Anele Siswana, in any set­ting that in­volves peo­ple, con­flict, dis­agree­ments, gos­sip and other un­der­ly­ing con­cerns will lead to what is com­monly re­ferred to as group dy­nam­ics.

“What I have ob­served in group set­tings is that con­flict stems from mis­un­der­stand­ing, lack of rules that gov­ern what is ex­pected and dif­fer­ent in­ter­ests. If group norms or rules are not ad­hered to, this can lead to ten­sion and pos­si­ble con­flicts,” he says. That is why it’s very im­por­tant for stokvels not to let the con­flict get out of hand and find quick ways to re­solve it.


Fi­nan­cial ex­perts ad­vise that all stokvels must have a func­tion­ing con­sti­tu­tion. This is where all the rules and reg­u­la­tions of how the stokvel works are writ­ten. Also en­sure that your con­sti­tu­tion also out­lines the penal­ties for each rule bro­ken.

This in­cludes penal­ties for those ar­riv­ing late, those mak­ing pay­ments late and those not con­tribut­ing con­sis­tently. It should cover all the pos­si­ble sce­nar­ios that can in­volve the group be­ing in a space of con­flict.

“This ba­si­cally means that one’s in­volve­ment in the group will be judged on the ba­sis of writ­ten and com­mu­ni­cated rules that shape the func­tion­ing of the group.

If one fails to com­ply with the de­sired out­comes of the group, sanc­tions and ways of deal­ing with the prob­lem will be drawn from the con­sti­tu­tion and group norms,” says Anele.


Deal­ing with dif­fer­ent per­son­al­i­ties in a group con­text is not easy when there are no clear bound­aries and rules set by the stokvel.

Some peo­ple may have more dom­i­nant per­son­al­i­ties than oth­ers.

“It’s also cru­cial to ac­knowl­edge that group mem­bers come from dif­fer­ent back­grounds that may have in­flu­enced one’s be­hav­iour, char­ac­ter and per­son­al­ity,” says Anele.

He adds that it’s very im­por­tant for group mem­bers to cre­ate a space of try­ing to un­der­stand each other.

He rec­om­mends group ac­tiv­i­ties like team build­ing, work­shops and group in­ter­ac­tions with the aim of try­ing to un­der­stand the dif­fer­ent per­son­al­i­ties that make up the stokvel. It’s also very im­por­tant for the chair­per­son or the stokvel leader to be able to deal with the dy­nam­ics of each per­son in the group. It’s quite com­mon to have an in­di­vid­ual that con­stantly causes con­flict in a group.


This can be through not com­ply­ing with the rules, in­con­sis­tent pay­ments or in­flu­enc­ing oth­ers neg­a­tively in the stokvel.

Anele ad­vises against di­rect con­fronta­tion when deal­ing with this kind of per­son.

“One of the best ways is to try to make the mem­ber see the im­pact of their be­hav­iour and what it does to the group,” says Anele.

In that way, there’s po­ten­tial for en­gage­ment and an op­por­tu­nity to en­hance his or her in­sight in ways of re­lat­ing with the group with­out mak­ing any­one un­com­fort­able.”

That is why it’s also im­por­tant to have a con­sti­tu­tion so that the stokvel can re­fer back to it and be able to give out the re­quired penalty. Dur­ing a con­flict, ev­ery­one wants to tell their side of the story. They are so fo­cused on prov­ing that they are right or try­ing to de­fend them­selves. They don’t hear other peo­ple or what they are try­ing to com­mu­ni­cate.


Most of the time the true mes­sage gets lost and noth­ing is re­solved be­cause peo­ple are not hear­ing or un­der­stand­ing each other.

Un­re­solved prob­lems or fights can cause neg­a­tive en­ergy and make it dif­fi­cult for the stokvel to func­tion prop­erly.

“It’s im­por­tant that the par­ties that are in con­flict com­mu­ni­cate with the aim to un­der­stand each other.

This ap­proach sim­ply en­cour­ages those in­volved in con­flict to take a step back and ex­plore ways of han­dling or deal­ing with the con­flict,” Anele says.

Some­times when it is dif­fi­cult for the stokvel mem­bers to find com­mon ground, they should get a neu­tral per­son to as­sist.

“In group set­tings, I en­cour­age that if the con­fronta­tional ap­proach does not work. It is im­por­tant to con­sider a third party that may in­ter­vene as a neu­tral ear and me­di­a­tor to as­sist in find­ing a so­lu­tion,” says Anele.

Find quick ways to re­solve it

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