Harare – UNIC commemorated the International Day of Peace in Harare in partnership with UNDP, Organ for National Healing and Reconciliation (ONHRI), Joint Monitoring and Implementation Committee (JOMIC) and other stakeholders.
The commemorations, which were held under the local theme ’Planting the seed of peace for sustainable development,” saw over 800 people of different ethnic and religious backgrounds converge at the Harare International Conference Centre to celebrate peace through prayers, poetry and singing.
Religious leaders representing 5 major religions in Zimbabwe – Christians, Muslims, Hindus, Baha’i and African Traditional Religion – led prayers for peace, while the Fatima Zahr Muslim Choir, the Chishawasha Catholic Seminary Choir and the Masimba Edenga United Methodist Choir sang songs of Peace. Firm Faith Seventh Day Adventist Choir also sang songs of peace to the pleasure of the crowd.
In line with the local theme, the Minister of State in the Organ for National Healing, Reconciliation and Integration Sekai Holland planted a tree of peace — the “mutsvikiri” tree on the grounds of the Conference Centre. She explained that the planting of the tree signified the coming together of various parties in the country in the quest for peace.
Dr Basile Tambashe the UNFPA Country Representative and Resident Coordinator ad interim, read the statement of the UNCT in Zimbabwe and that of the UN Secretary General. He said the United Nations in Zimbabwe supports the strengthening of national mechanisms for peace building and for the prevention, management and resolution of conflict under the Zimbabwe United Nations Development Assistance Framework for 2012-2015.
“The UN in Zimbabwe supports promoting peace and tolerance from its ardent belief that, if development is to be successful and lead to a sustained reduction in poverty and higher levels of human development, peace has to be embraced at all levels of society”.
UN Secretary General Ban ki-Moon reiterated his call for a complete cessation of hostilities around the world saying that “armed conflicts attack the very pillars of sustainable development.
“Natural resources must be used for the benefit of society, not to finance wars. Children should be in school, not recruited into armies. National budgets should focus on building human capacity, not deadly weapons,” said Mr Ban “On the International Day of Peace, I call on combatants around the world to find peaceful solutions to their conflicts.
Let us all work together for a safe, just and prosperous future for all.”
In a speech read on his behalf by the Minister of Information and Publicity Webster Shamu Vice-President of Zimbabwe and Chairman of the Organ for National Healing, Reconciliation and Integration (ONHRI) John Nkomo called on Zimbabwean citizens, women, men and the youth of both gender and all ages to dedicate themselves to peaceful resolution of disputes, thus laying the firm foundation of a sustainable future.
“I particularly call upon the Zimbabwe politicians and legislators to show leadership in building and installing a legacy of sustainable peace for the sustainable development of our country, Zimbabwe. Let 2012 be the year that we rededicate ourselves to a new paradigm so that “all citizens are treated with dignity and decency irrespective of age, gender, race, ethnicity, place of origin or political affiliation”, he said.
As a build up to Peace Day, ONHRI together with the Ministry of Education, Sport, Arts and Culture launched a National Schools Art, Poetry and Essay writing competition for all primary and secondary school pupils. The main purpose of the competition was to challenge young people to express their views and ideas on the role of peace for sustainable development. The competition ran from June to early September 2012 and culminated in a prize giving ceremony held at the Peace Day commemorations.
Prior that, a Clean Up Campaign for Peace was held in central Harare (at Charge Office and Copacabana) on 14 September.
The International Day of Peace was set aside by the United Nations General Assembly in 1981 as a Day devoted to strengthening the ideals of peace, both within and among all nations and peoples.