Silveira House, a development education centre run by the Society of Jesus 20 km east of Harare, recently gathered national political leaders, representatives of civil society organisations, church organisations and media houses for a conference “Consolidating our efforts in promoting peace in Zimbabwe.”

Held on May 31, 2012, the conference attracted the presence of Ambassador Simon Khaya Moyo (national chairperson of Zanu-PF), Honourable Minister Nelson Chamisa representing the national chairperson of MDC-T, Honourable Minister Sekayi Holland from the Organ for National Healing and Reconciliation, Honourable Thabitha Khumalo (MP for Bulawayo East) representing the Joint Monitoring and Implementation Committee (JOMIC), Mr Chamunorwa representing MDC-M, the Goromonzi District DA, and Ms Emilia Muchawa representing civil society organisations.

The main objective of the conference was to reflect on the role of key players in the promotion of peace in Zimbabwe at a time when our national leaders are preaching peace and our political leaders talk about possible elections in the near future.

The main points that came from the discussions include:

  • In building peace, we must start with what we already have (JOMIC, ONHRI, GNU etc)
  • We must work together in order to make greater impact
  • We must link the past with the future
  • We must destroy or reform structures that promote violence and conflict
  • Politically motivated violence in Zimbabwe is not merely partisan, as was manifested by intra-party violence during primary elections
  • media houses must stop using or broadcasting hate speech.
  • There has to be coordination and consolidation of efforts to ensure that the country moves from talking about stopping violence and conflict towards talking about development.
  • We need to adopt effective action plans that implement all that our national leaders propagate

Honourable Minister Nelson Chamisa opened his speech saying, “It’s not possible to get lost if you don’t know where you are going.” One can only get lost if one knows the destination. So, what is the effect of such a conference on the Zimbabwean situation? 

The expected outcome of this conference is a more conscious, deliberate effort to promote peace in the context of the talk of possible elections. We expect that our follow-up to the conference with a detailed report that contains clearly articulated recommendations will urge key players to intentionally plan to promote peace. We will reflect deeply on how to further engage the media so that they reduce or stop hate speech. Ambassador Khaya Moyo rightly put it, “The media across the board don’t seem to know how to build peace….Sometimes when you read the main story on the front page of a newspaper, there is absolutely no link between the headline and the story. The media (especially journalists) should be ethical”.

It is indeed worrying that our media have chosen to be absolutely unethical and “un-objective” in the way they present information. In her concluding remarks, Honourable Minister S. Holland emphasised that “in view of what has come out of the discussions in this conference, there is need to enhance coordination of activities across the country so that the impact of peace building can be felt at all levels and be seen to improve livelihoods.”

Silveira House will continue to engage centres of power and local communities in building the nation towards sustainable peace and development.