As part of an ongoing series to build a peace network among Southern African journalists, the Heavenly Culture, World Peace, Restoration of Light (HWPL) hosted a Peace Journalism Workshop at the Rotary Club in Harare, Zimbabwe recently.

Issues of peace and security in the Southern African region have been on the rise since the outbreak of COVID-19, increasing the need for peace activism and awareness.

Zimbabwe, though perceived as a peaceful nation due to no active and ongoing wars, continues to be plagued by social and economic unrest among the young population due to the high unemployment rates.

In Zimbabwe, as well as the rest of the Southern African region, levels of violent and petty crimes have increased, threatening the peaceful status of these two regions.

To combat this, the international peace organization, Heavenly Culture World Peace Restoration of Light (HWPL), and collaborating media houses hosted a Peace Journalism Workshop themed: “Exploring the role of the media in advancing youth empowerment as a channel for peace”.

The event aimed to highlight and discuss the ways through which the media can be used to build sustainable peace by empowering the country’s youth.

Guest speaker, Director of Spiked! News, Byron Mutingwende shared that “Journalists are at the center of promoting the common interest of improving the wellbeing of the people. Africa is at the center of a plethora of development and humanitarian challenges arising out of climate change and weak economies.

The people who are affected by development programs ought to have their voice heard, ought to be consulted, and have ownership in whatever is being designed for them to ensure success.”

The workshop was the fourth held in the region as part of an ongoing series to create a peace network of journalists in the SADC region. Previous workshops were held earlier this year in Eswatini, Lesotho, and Malawi.

Speaking on the war in Ukraine, HWPL representative Irvine Kambozzi said, “Not all wars are physical and require physical combat. We have to think of the root causes of these conflicts – be it a physical war, gender-based violence, political violence… We have a powerful tool as journalists and people of the media, which is the ability to change the hearts and thoughts of individuals.”

As part of the workshop discussions, the participants unpacked a case study of the Culture for Peace that was achieved in Mindanao, The Philippines where HWPL’s Chairman Man Hee Lee brought about a peace agreement that concluded a forty-year-long religious conflict.

The participants agreed to collaborate and use their mediums as platforms that encourage dialogue among parties for the achievement of sustainable peace in Zimbabwe and the rest of the region.