ROMAN Catholic priest and Mugabe's friend Father Fidelis Mukonori has revealed how he trained the late former trade unionist and MDC-T leader, Morgan Tsvangirai on peace-building.
Speaking at a Zimbabwe Union of Journalists (ZUJ) and Silveira House workshop on creating the environment for effective coverage of the forthcoming elections, Mukonori said Tsvangirai was among several international trade unionists to pass through the Catholic Social Justice and Development Centre outside Harare.
“Many of the leading labour movement leaders, teachers and those of professional reputation passed through our hands at the centre in our efforts for peace-building. Among those that I trained are the late MDC-T leader Morgan Tsvangirai as well as the late former Zambian President Frederick Chiluba, who wanted to use his muscle due to his short build, but we told him to think to achieve anything on peace,” he said.
“We know workers were not being handsomely paid, but the only way was through good negotiating skills.”
Mukonori took a central role and mediated between former President Robert Mugabe and the military after the launch of Operation Restore Legacy in November last year, which ushered in a new government led by President Emmerson Mnangagwa.
The Catholic cleric said it was imperative for journalists to create a better environment for the nation through well-balanced stories that give constructive criticism.
“As journalists, it is your primary role to inform the citizens with factual news that shape the nation. Personally, I approach those in leadership to advise them where they could have made mistakes,” he said.
“Do not be afraid to tell the truth. Not everyone can be ED (President), professors or truck drivers of this world. So, as journalists, be professional in your conduct. Do away with hate language that will never build trust among your readers. We have seen many blaming Zanu PF for the mess the country is in, but everyone is involved, as we are not taking our roles. It includes citizens, politicians, everyone and you as journalists to make our country a peaceful nation.”
Various organisations such as ZUJ, Voluntary Media Council of Zimbabwe, Zimbabwe Election Support Network and Election Resource Centre, called on the media to build peace and report professionally without taking sides ahead of elections due to in the next five months.