By Br. Alfonce Kugwa
Zimbabwe is in great need of peace and reconciliation as political divisions leading to social disintegration have taken a long time to heal. Different efforts are being made to reconcile the people of Zimbabwe. Government, non-governmental groups, churches and civil society have embarked on the national dialogue mantra with the aim of bringing people together in order to rebuild the country.
The Catholic Commission for Justice and Peace in Mutare is engaging individuals, groups and communities in resolving conflicts through a popular programme dubbed an “Ideal Peace Ambassador.” The programme is meant to promote peace and reconciliation starting with the individual. People in Mutare have embraced the programme which they appreciate for its ability to bring people together.
The project was initiated in January 2013 by CCJP-Mutare and operates in seven deaneries within Manicaland Province with support from Misereor and Caritas Denmark.
The Peace Ambassador Movement has brought together people from different church bodies in Manicaland such as the Evangelical Fellowship, Catholic Church, Christian Fellowship, Methodist, Praise God Apostolic Ministries, Seventh Day Adventist, ZCC and Johanne Masowe.
According to Getrude Chimange, Catholic Commission for Justice and Peace Mutare Diocese Coordinator, the programme was meant to engage people from different religious backgrounds to have a common understanding on peace and unity. Chimange said the initiative was also meant to help people identify that things which unite them were more important over that which divides them.
CCJP-Mutare defines Peace Ambassadors as animators, positive change agents, watch dogs and stewards of community values who are involved in the Social Justice Ministry to promote peace and justice in the community.
Chimange said: “The responsibilities of Peace Ambassadors were peace education, prevention of conflict, conflict intervention, post-conflict healing, monitoring, documentation and advocacy.”
The programme addresses such issues as promotion of human dignity, participation, association, the principle of the common good, option for the poor, subsidiarity, solidarity, stewardship of creation and universal destination of earth’s goods. It also addresses peace in families in relation to gender-based violence.
The Peace Ambassador Programme is highly appreciated in Manicaland as it is yielding good results in bringing peace and unity. Grace Mutsvagiwa praised CCJP for coming up with the initiative which she said has helped a lot in bridging the gap separating the people of Manicaland.
“As a Peace Ambassador I feel proud and honoured as I am now able to solve some intra conflicts affecting our community. I am now able to teach others at home and to promote peace wherever I am,” said Mutsvagiwa.
So far PAM has trained 2500 Peace Ambassadors in Mutare Diocese. Of the trained 2500 Peace Ambassadors, 1750 are from the Justice and Peace Committees whereas 750 are from other community structures using an ecumenical approach. Out of the trained 2500 Peace Ambassadors, 2290 have each managed to educate three more peace ambassadors using the multiplier effect in their respective communities to a total of 6870. The trained Peace Ambassadors have managed to solve 1230 conflicts (630 politically motivated, 460 domestic conflicts, 230 environment related and 90 natural resource based conflicts). The trained PAs have been instrumental in mobilising for community trainings and reporting on the human rights situations through the CCJP-Mutare deanery focal point persons. The PAs have also been effective in observing the 2013 and 2018 Harmonised Election and reported on election irregularities to inform evidence based policy advocacy by CCJPZ at National level.
Since its establishment in 1972, CCJP-Mutare has facilitated the establishment of 167 Justice and Peace Committees (JPCs) in the Diocese. The committees are made up of 7 members each. The aim of CCJP-Mutare is to have a JPC in each of the 240 outstations in the Diocese of Mutare.