Civil strife has resurfaced in recent years in countries like the Democratic Republic of Congo, Lesotho, Madagascar and Mozambique. In Zimbabwe, the military’s role in recent events leading to a change of the Head of State highlighted how the media played an important role in safeguarding human lives. In Malawi, South Africa, and Zambia, service delivery protests and conflicts about electoral issues have also made local and international headlines. The workshop’s main objective was to enhance the capacity of Southern African journalists to cover issues such as these. It builds on similar workshops funded by the APN in West and East Africa.
“All of us are familiar with the media, and many people have been victims of reckless reporting and/or misinformation - intended or not. Therefore, lessons learned through workshops such as this one can help to mitigate the risks of the media contributing to violence and conflict,” remarked Dr Tjama Tjivikua, the NUST Vice-Chancellor, during the opening ceremony.
He added that in post-conflict societies, the media is one of the crucial cogs in facilitating the establishment of sustainable peace.
The APN Programme Director, Dr Cyril Obi, said that African media practitioners have a key role in shaping transformative peace, thus promoting justice and prosperity.
During the gathering, NUST lecturers trained the workshop participants on a number of issues such as gender, fake news, hate speech, online harassment, safety of journalists and blogging in a conflict environment.
Subsequently, a number of articles have been published by the journalists who attended the workshop, promoting peace on the continent. One such journalist is Veneranda Langa, who works for News Day in Zimbabwe. Her article titled ‘Journalists urged to expose human rights abusers’ underscores journalists’ obligation to safeguard human rights through responsible reporting.
Local journalists expressed interest in participating in workshops of this nature on a more regular basis.