Story by Colette Musanyera
THE need for the media to cultivate peace during the election period took centre stage at a breakfast meeting for senior media personnel hosted by the National Peace and Reconciliation Commission (NPRC) in Harare this Wednesday.
As the country prepares for the 2023 general elections, the Commission has called upon media practitioners to promote and uphold peace by reporting accurately and objectively.
NPRC General Manager Joseph Mashingaidze said, ‘‘There is a need for media to work with other stakeholders to ensure that violence is done without, especially during this election period. We believe we can play a role as media and NPRC to transform behaviours we have seen before in terms of the promotion of peace among electoral stakeholders. We will also work with women and youth to debunk myths that the aforementioned groups are the main perpetrators of violence. We will hold meetings with stakeholders at all levels.
“There are areas known for being violent and there is a need to come up with tailor-made programmes to prevent the occurrence and reoccurrence of such. We will also work with traditional authorities and local leaders to reach out to everyone with messages on the promotion of peace. We will intensify media campaigns on peace through various platforms.’’
Veteran journalist Chris Chinaka who was part of the facilitating team, highlighted some of the ways in which the media can ensure peace prevails.
Chinaka said, ‘‘As media, we should do a mapping exercise to identify conflict areas and causes of conflicts in order to manage it. As media, we should listen in order to disseminate information without prejudice. We should promote sensitive and not sensational reporting. We should bring Journalism to its highest standards by being fair and accurate.’’
Media practitioners pledged their commitment to preserving peace prior to, during and after the election period.
A media practitioner noted, ‘‘We have a huge responsibility as media to preserve peace in the country. We should avoid any conflict. It is imperative that we do reports that ensure there is peace in our country.’’
Another media practitioner said, ‘‘We should facilitate peace in the country during the election period. We have a huge role to play as media. The media should desist from publishing hate speech to help enhance peace. We should stick to Journalism ethics which will help preserve peace in the country.’’
‘‘NPRC is key and the media we have a role to transmit accurate information to communities. As media, we can destroy or make communities so we have to be responsible when carrying out our duties as journalists. We should promote peace in our country which is key in nation building,’’ another journalist noted.
The NPRC was established by the government to address issues of conflict and to promote peace and reconciliation across the country.