WASHINGTON DC —
A faith-based non-governmental organization says it is essential for Zimbabwe to deal with the nation's historical conflicts as failure to do so will see the cycle of political violence continuing in the country.
Speaking to journalists during a workshop on conflict-sensitive reporting in Bulawayo, programmes and training manager Reverend Sikhalo Cele of the Ecumenical Church Leaders Forum (ECLF) said while conflict is an inevitable facet of society, it is important to manage it so that it does not degenerate into flagrant violence.
Reverend Cele said in many instances, victims of violent conflict that has occurred in the country in the past still feel aggrieved, and failure to deal with this may result in some sections of society feeling slighted and excluded, which has the potential of breeding extremism or rebellion that may plunge the country into open hostilities.
Reverend Cele lauded the constitutional provision allowing for the setting up of the National Peace and Reconciliation Commission, saying such a commission enables the nation to deal with its past, provided the commission is allowed to carry out its work without any undue interference.
Reverend Cele said it important for media practitioners to appreciate that what they write or broadcast has the potential to either aggravate or lessen conflict.
Citing the example of President Robert Mugabe's recent utterances about Kalangas, some journalists who participated in the workshop, said it is sometimes difficult for the media to avoid issues that apparently exacerbate conflict, as such issues are usually newsworthy.
While acknowledging the dilemma, Reverend Cele, however, said it is still possible to handle such stories in a conflict-sensitive manner that ensures that harm is minimized.
ECLF director Bishop Ambrose Moyo reiterated the importance of media in society and exhorted journalists to consciously seek to promote peace in their work.
Tatenda Chitagu, a freelance journalist based in Masvingo told Studio 7 that he found the conflict-sensitive reporting workshop both useful and enlightening, adding that it was coming at the right time as the country is facing various problems that can exacerbate conflict.
The conflict-sensitive reporting workshop drew journalists based in the country's southern region and included those from the state and private media as well as freelancers.
The Ecumenical Church Leaders' Forum was founded in 2008. Through its focus on conflict prevention management and transformation, it works with communities across the country sensitizing them on peace-building and also helping them improve their livelihoods by imparting skills for various income-generating programmes.