BY SILENCE MUGADZAWETA
RESPONSIBLE journalism is key to a peaceful Zimbabwe as the country heads towards 2023 harmonised elections, Information minister Monica Mutsvangwa has said.
Speaking at the inaugural launch of the Rotary/Makerere University peace journalism training programme yesterday, Mutsvangwa said journalists were key stakeholders in maintaining the peace that the country has enjoyed since independence.
“Our media must be responsible because they have the power to uphold peace or throw it away at the tip of the pen. As the old adage goes, the pen is mightier than the sword and indeed journalists must understand this power and develop attitudes that ensure that peace is upheld at all costs,” she said.
“Today, in every part of the world, reliable, accurate and objective media, whether it be mainstream or alternative, can help to prevent and resolve conflicts. The function of responsibly disseminating information, increasing awareness and knowledge, promoting participatory and transparent governance and addressing perceived grievances are key towards this end.”
She said training journalists on peace was vital because the media possess the power to create opportunities for society to consider non-violent means in resolving conflicts. There was need, Mutsvangwa said, to make peace journalism training mandatory in journalism schools.
“Capacitating both journalists and editors will give them greater influence of agency over structure, particularly considering the strictures of the newsroom that come to bear upon the journalist,” Mutsvangwa said.
“There is an urgent need to inculcate peace journalism as a major module in foundational journalism and media training at educational institutions across the country.”
Peace Journalism Training in Southern Africa co-ordinator Patience Rusare said the programme was aimed at equipping journalists with fundamentals and principles of peace journalism.
“The primary objective of the programme is to equip practicing journalists and students of the Fourth Estate with the right aptitude and attitude to report on peace on the continent,” she said.
“This is in recognition of the fact that peace journalism is not only about wartime reporting, but rather seeks to inculcate a sense of responsibility in how reporters handle disagreements in political contestations and competing ideologies in various national contexts.”