Zimbabweâ€™s media has been challenged to publish and to broadcast messages which promote peace and reconciliation for the development of the country.
This comes after the realisation that to some extent, the media both print and electronic have been responsible for fanning violence and promoting disunity within communities.
The Organ for National Healing, Reconciliation and Integration organised a meeting with heads of local media organisations and senior editorial staff, as the two sides work towards finding ways of promoting peace, reconciliation and a violence free nation.
The organâ€™s Chairperson, Vice President Cde John Landa Nkomo urged the media to promote messages of peace building, healing and desist from dividing the nation by publishing or broadcasting irresponsible stories.
He added that the three principals in the Global Political Agreement (GPA) set the tone when they launched the Zimbabwe Political Parties Dialogue on Violence a fortnight ago.
Cde Nkomo said for the nation to move forward, past grudges must be forgiven, while mutual respect must be forged to ensure stability in the country.
MDC-Tâ€™s Minister of State in the Organ for National Healing, Reconciliation and Integration, Mrs Sekai Holland said no amount of punitive measures will stop violence, but every person including journalists must examine their conscience, before publishing or broadcasting stories that cause divisions and violence.Â
MDC Minister of State in the same organ, Mr Moses Mzila Ndlovu said peace and economic prosperity are inseparable and the media as the fourth estate can play a crucial role in peace building.
Also speaking at the same meeting, the Minister of Media, Information and Publicity, Cde Webster Shamu said media practitioners should uphold media ethics by reporting objectively, factually and in a balanced manner, adding that unethical journalism fuels tension and provokes conflict.
He said people rely on the media for information on current events and as such, media houses should not depart from their mandate of providing accurate and balanced reports.
He also urged media organisations to guard against local and external manipulation and abuse that can lead to conflict.
Cde Shamu warned media organisations that exaggerate stories and use misleading headlines, not to jeopardise the gains achieved by the Organ for National Healing, Reconciliation and Integration as the nation preparers for a constitutional referendum and a general elections scheduled for next year.
The Organ for National Healing, Reconciliation and Integration was established under Article 7 of the GPA to give advice on what measures to be taken by all the three parties in the GPA to achieve national healing, cohesion and unity.
The motto of the organ stresses the importance of acknowledging that everyone is responsible for building a peaceful nation.Â Â Â Â Â Â